Triplets (and tuplets)

• Feb 1, 2022 - 15:56

The Jazz Font shows eighth note triplets and tuplets with a small italicised number under or over the beam.
After lengthy discussion on the FB discussion group Marc Sabatella said that the font was shown 10% smaller than it should be. Its certainly smaller than the numbers used similarly in any other font.
I request this be fixed.
The addition of a bracket might be made easier and the choice of a curved bracket offered.
Marc said that modern engraving styles use only a small unbracketed number at the beam. I don't know who decided that but IMO it should be rethought. It makes for difficult sightreading which is often encountered with the use of jazz font.


Indeed, modern notation - by which I meant, pretty much all published music from the last couple of centuries - does not use a bracket for tuplets if they are beamed. The wise people who decided on this centuries ago are of course long dead, so it's unlikely they'll be convinced to revisit their decision :-). But also, it's unlikely that any current publishers would wish to violate or change this rule, since doing so just produces unnecessary clutter, and clutter makes reading harder, not easier. If there are three notes beamed toegether and there is a 3 right there next to the beam, then it is obviously a triplet consisting of those three notes. Any additional marking would be redundant.

It is true, however, that the jazz templates used too small a font size for the tuplet number. The standard size for tuplets numbers should be 1.5 staff spaces - so that if it's placed on the staff, it straddles a line but won't ever be clipped at both the top and bottom as it would if it were a whole number of staff spaces. The jazz templates use 9 pt font which makes the 3 a little too small. It should be 10 or arguably even 11 point font.

I recommend you file this as an official Suggestion to the Issue Tracker so this can be considered for a future release.

Curved brackets for tuplets in professionally published music also died out centuries ago, because they are far too easily confused with slurs. If you really wish to risk this confusion (and I would strongly urge against it, as would pretty much all professional editors), you can always add a slur. Still, in order to reproduce the look of those older editions that did use curved brackets, direct support for has been requested before, so it's not out of the question that such an option would be added someday.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

I appreciate your responses Marc here and to the Jazz Font readability issue. I would say though that your statement pretty much 'all published music from the last couple of centuries - does not use a bracket' is not quite true. Certainly in many instances, those I gave on the FB group for instance were 20th century.
And I stand by my point.
If there is a danger of the bracket being interpreted as a slur then a square bracket either side of the 3 is not ambiguous.
Only last night I was confronted with exactly this problem with groups of 3 eighth notes some of which were triplets and some were not, utterly confusing to read with the 3s way away from noteheads, at fast sightreading tempos.
Additionally when this also ocurred with quarter notes which DID have a bracket (because they weren't beamed obviously), having the bracket and number so far away from the noteheads among other quarter notes which weren't triplets was ridiculous.
I understand the reasoning. It is in my opinion flawed.
While this rule may be acceptable for classical music publishing, it is not suitable for the vast majority of practical commercial music performance where speed and accuracy at sight is expected. And that will generally be done with the jazz font.

In reply to by Jojo-Schmitz

Well probably not the jazz font used in Musescore. Most big band, Broadway type scoring for sessions and practically anything that would be written for anything other than a brass band or string sections would use a 'non classical' font. Its just easier.
Just ask yourself WHY ARE THERE jazz fonts? Hand written manuscript, which the various Jazz fonts try to imitate adopted various conventions for practicality and that always meant accuracy at speed first time. What we have now (I'm guessing) in all notation programs are quite well designed jazz fonts following classical engraving rules.

In reply to by rockleyhome@gm…

It's indeed not quite true to say literally all of it follows the standard rules. That's why I try to be careful to qualify that with words like "practically", virtually", "almost", etc. And then the statements are quite literally true. The vast majority of music published in the last century follows the standard rules of notation.

Of the two examples I recall seeing on FB, one of them was very clearly a slur and not a triplet bracket. All those more evidence for why this practice has mostly died out. I believe one or two Russian publishers may still use it, but virtually no other publishers do this. That's just an established fact easily that is verified via a trip to your local music library.

Square brackets are standard in the cases where they add information - where they clarify which notes or rests are included and which are not. That's why, again, virtually all publishers [ EDIT: typo corrected, missing word "and" added ] follow the standard rule of only showing the bracket for groups that are not clearly beamed already, and why the number generally goes on the beam side.

It's not clear what you mean about bracket and number being far from the quarter notes, unless you are talking about the very specific case I posted examples of - notes outside the staff. In this case and this case only, indeed, the bracket and number will be too far away. And that's why editors make a subjective decision about whether to leave that alone, move the bracket & number onto the staff, or flip them to the notehead side. And that's why MuseScore gives you those same options, so you can subjectively decide case by case which approach you want to use in those special circumstances. But for notes on the staff where the stem ends are already outside or close to the outside of the staff, the standard position of slightly past the stem end is exactly correct, and it's the rule followed by most publishers.

In reply to by rockleyhome@gm…

Again, the rules exist precisely to optimize readability - that's the whole reason they exist. So jazz is no exception here. It's vitally important for jazz to easily readable just as it is for classical music, and that's why it is just as vitally important for jazz to follow standard rules of notation that are designed to optimize readability. And that includes things like, not using symbols that can too easily be mistaken for slurs (as you mistook slurs for tuplet brackets in the example you posted), and also, not putting a tuplet number on the opposite side of the note from where rhythms are normally read.

Also, to be clear: which font is used is beside the point. The things you are are talking about have nothing to do with font, they are style rules, a completely separate topic. It's certainly possible MuseScore could someday add an option always force place tuplets numbers on the notehead side, but if so, it would have nothing to do with font, and everything to do with the style settings for a score. The font doesn't control the location of symbols, only their appearance.

This is a related but slightly different question. I'm working on a score with a lot of triplets. I would like to have the triplet number indicated for the first few beats of triplets but then not for the rest of the piece (it's pretty obvious what should be triplets for an experienced player, but this is for students so I would like it to be extra clear just for the first appearance of the triplets). I know I can use the style menu to display tuplet numbers for the whole score. Then in theory I could click on every triplet indication after the first few beats of triplets and make them not visible... but I'd really rather not do all those clicks. Is there any way to select a group of tuplets and turn on the tuplet number indication just for those beats? If not, please think about adding that feature. Thanks.

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