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pweller - Posted - 02/20/2007:  19:48:51

Question for the banjo paddies out there: What is a triplet exactly? I know it's three notes played in double time, so is a single note played three times quickly (down, up, downstroke) a triplet? How about triplets with several notes? How do those work? Are there online lessons which help explain this?

fivestringmac - Posted - 02/20/2007:  20:11:44

a triplet is a meausurement of rythmn. It refers to any three notes played within the space of 1 note that is twice the value of the triplet. Confused? Don't be. Its easy to figure out. There are 3 eighth note triplets for every quarter note. 3 quarter note triplets for every 1/2 note..etc. An easy way to learn it is by setting a metrenome to 4/4 time. Each click would be a quarter note (in most banjo tab 4 clicks will equal one measure) count aloud 1-2-3 evenly for every quarter note click you hear and that will be perfect 8th note triplets which are the most common in banjo tab.

fivestringmac - Posted - 02/20/2007:  20:34:42

O.K. to make it a little easier, I just recorded a demonstration of triplets on the banjo. listen to the file titled triplets on my homepage

mikeyes - Posted - 02/20/2007:  21:15:47

What you are describing is a musical triplet, the kind taught in music school (and a very nice job indeed) but in Irish tenor banjo there is an ornament that is also called a triplet although the term "treble" is probably better because it is not as confusing.

A treble is a rhythmic device that takes the place of a lot of other ornaments specific to Irish music. Since a banjo has a lot less sustain than a fiddle, the treble is more practical. I have an article about it at and you can hear it in most of my tunes on my tune list.

An ornamental treble/triplet is not even, rather it is two shorts and a long, da-da-DAH or sometimes so quickly it is a Brrp sound. Often it is not even tones, rather you can do it while muffling the strings for effect. Go to for a few examples or see my web site.

Now if you really meant the musical triplets forget everything I said <G> but you did mention paddies, so I assume you meant Irish traditional music.

Mike Keyes

fivestringmac - Posted - 02/21/2007:  02:58:30

I totally missed the "paddies" reference, which is surprising seeing that I am one (or at least my ancestors were). The information on musical triplets can still be helpful for Irish music, however. Many jigs are written in consecutive triplets. Irish Washerwoman is a good example. I have seen it noted in 2 different ways. It can be written in 6/8 or 4/4 time (the latter being written in triplets). Both meters would sound somewhat the same except that in 4/4 time it would have a little more drive because the back beat would be straight quarter notes whereas in 6/8 time the back beat would be dotted quarters.

I hope both explanations of "triplets" help you.

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