Curved bracket version needed for tuplets.

• Oct 25, 2011 - 12:23
Reported version
S5 - Suggestion

Currently the options for tuplets are to have no bracket at all, or to have the square bracket recommended by modern notation experts.

Both Sibelius and Finale give the option for the bracket to be curved. The fifth edition of Grove's Musical dictionary displays all triplet examples with curved brackets (there's no entry for tuplet), and indeed this was the way I was taught to write them during my formal musical education in the 1960's and early 1970's.

The curved tuplet bracket is also required by scribes producing historically accurate 19th century score.

The forum discussion on this subject can be found here:

I propose that the curved bracket be introduced in a future version of MuseScore.


The curved tuplet bracket also pops up in older guitar editions. For example, in "Das Grieg Book," 1960:


and in "Jacob's Guitar Soloist," 1895 (see attachment).

Attachment Size
la_paloma.PNG 50.08 KB

In the 26 pages of Das Grieg Buch (not on line), apart from HOs and POs, curved lines only occur over the tuplets, and nowhere else in the score. They can only be tuplet brackets.

And Chansonette (from the same collection as "La Paloma") shows a curved tuplet bracket under a slur.

I can remember many discussions about whether a slur was a slur or maybe a triplet bracket (in chamber music sessions), so the potential for confusion is real.
I support the call for alternative tuplet brackets anyway because the square ones we have are truly ugly.

truly ugly
Can you please be constructive... Why are they ugly? How should they look according to you? Please create a forum post and discuss this if they are "truly ugly"... To me, the current bracket just look like any tuplet bracket in the literature...

Hooks look to be a little longer than Gould, FWIW, but indeed, totally within the range of what I see in the published literature.

But even though I would strongly recommend against anyone actually using curved brackets - this notation is archaic and likely to cause confusion to modern readers - I do support the request.

Sorry, I didn't think this would ruffle any feathers.

But seriously, these brackets look like dropped in from some other universe when looked at next to the other symbols we use to write music. Especially when they are displayed upwards or downwards following the music.

I hasten to add that I think that no other element of MS notation is unattractive.

Personally I have not encountered any square tuplet brackets in any printed music I have seen (though plenty of round ones), but in classical music most of what you play was actually printed years or decades ago, so I am not a good "witness" in this regard But maybe "archaic" is a tad hyperbolic.

I have been wondering: If the horizontal line were a little thicker than the hooks (sort of mimicking the relation between stems and beams) or maybe the number on top of the bracket rather than interrupting it, might it look better?

As far as I know, curved brackets for tuplets were common in the 19th century but most pulished from the past 100 years or so have used square brackets. Elaine Gould's "Behind Bars" calls these "older editions" and specifically dictates *not* to use that style because the curved brackets are too easily mistaken for slurs.

Akso, FWIW, when using square brackets, having the numeral interrupt the bracket is standard. Our tuplets really do look like the vast majority of published music from the past century or so.

The curved tuplet brackets might need to be added to SMuFL then. Also, I think there is a workaround:
1. Use Image Capture to get the number in the tuplet.
2. Hide the bracket and number.
3. Make a slur over the tuplet.
4. Turn off autoplace on the slur.
5. Put the number image over the slur.
First triplet: regular
2nd: step 2
3rd: steps 3-4
4th: steps 4-5.

Attachment Size
Curved bracket tuplet.mscz 7.38 KB
Workaround No Yes

A better workaround would be to use a slur for the bracket and if you want the number in the middle of the slur, put a staff text in the proper place. In this case, also turn off auto placement for the slur so it doesn't avoid the number. Select the number and in the Inspector set the frame for the text to Rectangle (from none) then set the Highlight to white (make sure the alpha/opacity for the white is 255). Also set the line width to 0. It will actually avoid the staff above better than current tuplet brackets do.