How to Count Sixtuplets


Senior Member
I count eighth note triplets as "One-a-let da-da-da Two-a-let da-da-da Three-a-let da-da-da Four-a-let da-da-da.

Quarter note triplets as One-a-let Two-a-let Three-a-let Four-a-let.

For me, it just kind of rolls off the tongue and it's easy to keep time and place.

What it all boils down to, is find something that works best FOR YOU.
1 - a - la - and - a -la - 2 - a - la - and - a - la

sounds like wunala anala twoala anala

Best one I've found for me but you gotta find your own groove on it m8


Junior Member
one tri-ple and tri-ple, two tri-ple and tri-ple etc.
or you can count it as ev-en-ly-ev-en-ly where ev(1)-en(2)-ly(3)-ev(4)-en(5)-ly(6)


Platinum Member
I count them one a tri pl et ta two a tri pl et ta

either that or ask the octa-mom.

btw it's sextuplets. It's when tuplets get together and multiply.

I actually count mine very similar to this.
I count "1-an-trip-o-let-a 2-an-trip-o-let-a...)
For me it smooths out the sticking and prevents me from accidentally accenting the "AND" if I count it "1-trip-let And-trip-let...


Silver Member
I really believe that it is best to try not to count anything beyond a sixteenth subdivision and eventually nothing beyond simple quarter notes. It can take your mind to far away from the purpose at hand which is to try to internalise the feeling of the subdivision. Get it happening really slowly at first and then count the largest, but simplest, subdivision, which in this case would probably be a simple eighth note.

Think of it as accenting R L R L R L with triplets in between. Of course getting those sextuplets going in the first place may be what you're really after and being able to count those, but the value of learning things by counting in the largest subdivision is that you can immediately take it up as far and fast as you need to go.

It's the same as counting a normal bar of 4/4. If it has some sixteenth notes in it I see way too people count the whole thing in sixteenths and you can feel the tension because of it. If you learn to count just the outline of the subdivisions or the outline of the phrase, it comes across much easier and much more natural. It is simply learning a different way of counting which is, I believe, much more useful in all of your playing and practice.

In a normal bar of 4/4 in which you have various subdivisions ranging from sextuplets and triplets to sixteenths and eighth notes, how would you count it? Would you literally count it as is ie. 1 + 2 e + a 3 + a 4 (add whichever preferred method of counting in six here)? Doing so might be ok if you are really struggling with it and going over it ultra slowly just to get the first and very basic understanding of it down, but, as soon as you have that first grasp of it down you should move straight into counting the outlining subdivision, which in this case would be eighth notes as it caters to every subdivision in the phrase, also making the mental access easier as simply counting 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + can mean that you aren't mentally struggling with counting things in your head and you can focus on feeling it and making the groove work in a more macro sense instead of focusing on the micro sense of it and being too focused on counting.

The other important thing is that you cannot get counting every subdivision, such as that above, much past a medium/slow tempo, which greatly limits the possibilities of it and can give you further problems when playing something which is slightly more 'up' and probably a lot more common in live playing, unless you are doing lots of ballads. lol

If you become ingrained with counting each subdivision out, then suddenly having to play something based entirely on sextuplets at a higher tempo can really freeze your mind and make you struggle mightily with it, whereas if you have got this 'outlining the subdivisions' thing happening it takes away all of those problems as counting 1 + 2 + or, even better, just 1 2 3 4 is easy at just about any tempo you can play.

Even if you have something tricky to play such as a sextuplet figure that starts on a triplet partial, you can still outline it like: 1 2+ 3 4, or if it starts and finishes exactly across one quarter note then you just emphasize both of them ie. 1 2+ 3+ 4.

It really creates a lot more freedom in your playing. When I was taught this and got used to it I was really quite stunned that I hadn't been doing it earlier as you think it would be something you do naturally, but I had always been so focused on counting the full subdivision of something like sixes or whatever, that you don't realise that it makes you rigid. If your mind is rigid then your playing will also be rigid and this is a simple method to really help break up that feeling and give you more freedom.

Check it out and try it out, hopefully it gives you some help.

gtr plyr

New member
The real topic is high tempo beat management. English is a vowel-based system. If I grab you with pliers you are not going to make a consonant sound like ch, sh, ck, ff, rr. Involuntary sounds under pressure (receiving your sentence from the judge) sound like 'uh, ah, aw oh'. Learning to speed read is suppressing what is called 'sub-vocalization' unnecessary movement of tongue and throat due to learning to speak what we read as children (instead, let the eyes grasp meaning from shape of words), (Evelyn Wood Reading Dynamic, JFK 2,500 wpm, mandated for members of congress). As players of thrash metal and so forth we want a chant system that we can hear in our head. If we sub-vocalize, parts of our body (tongue, throat etc) actually move, and we are slowed down. If you can hear 'straw-berr-y', 'la le tee', or 'one-po-let, two-po-let' in your head, congratulations you are gnarlier than me there Mr/Ms. Lombardo. When I look out at a full auditorium my brain turns off and I have less to fall back on. 1. Build on the system you are most familiar with. 2. make sure you can hear it in slur form, and you are not waiting for active participation of your body, or metal pronunciation. For me this is vowel sounds. Sixteenth Notes: 'one ee and ah'. Sextuplet: one aw ee and ah ee. Thirty-second notes: one aw ee and ah aw ee and. My degrees are in accounting/finance, and I could no more do a french grip than I could speak en francois, but let me defend this method. I was taught what I am sharing in a university class. It's not my design. I believe inserting the vowel sound 'aw' between the 'one' and the 'ee' of the first two sixteenth notes differentiates the division of six from four. Four and six are our main problem. Thirty-seconds at a high tempo would be counted as sixteenth notes. We would move 'one, two, three, four' to the eight note position. My ability to hear and manage fast tempos came when I started to listen for a high pitched frequency in music. That frequency sounds like a sustained note. Notes blurred together. It lets me step back from what I hear and not lose the beat. Lastly, all this chant system stuff goes out the window at 200 bpm. We had to have practiced at slower rates so that we can hear the divisions as a legato slur at different tempos, and perform involuntarily on our instrument.

Jeff Almeyda

Senior Consultant
Well, after all that input from the gang you should certainly know how to count 16th note triplets now. :)

It sounds like you may be having trouble with starting from the off beat eighth note more than the actual counting of the triplet. Can you start a 8th of 16th note phrase from the offbeat?

Can you count "1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and" and and then fill in the 16th note triplets based off of the 1/8 note pulse while still counting/feeling the 1/8th notes? ? Or do you have to count the triplet out?

I ask this because you say you have no problem when the phrase starts on the downbeat. To me that says that your issue is with the upbeat and not the triplet.


Platinum Member
I count sixtuplets and (32nd notes) as 8th notes. If I ever have to count them slowly for students to illustrate a rhythm, I'll say 1-trip-let &-trip-let. Of course that's way too cumbersome for real life. I don't know what the purpose is for counting fast singles— the point of counting is to know what you're playing and get the timing right, and it's easier to do that by counting the primary subdivisions, and knowing which hand falls on which.


Senior Member
It's been beaten to death, but to me, counting individual triplets at the 16th rate seems excessive. I "feel" at the 8th note level and fill the triplets in by feel. Going around the toms, I think it's "BUH-duh-duh-BUH-duh-duh ..." in my head. :)


Well-known member
I also use the "1-pul-let, AND -pul-let" system, and can vocalize it pretty fast after teaching marching percussion for 30 years.

I also came up with my own system for counting 32nd notes based of the "1 e & a way": I put an "L" between them, so 32's to me are " 1 L E L And L ah L" so it comes out sounding like: one-ul-e-lul -and-ul-uh-dul etc....


Junior Member
1 e + a ta ka
Just because i find it easy saying it in groups of 3: 1-e-+. a-ta-ka
and in groups of 2: 1-e. +-a. ta-ka.


The reason I don't like saying triplet out loud is because it's a choppy word and my playing reflects that. When I count my way, I play smoother.

Especially when I'm playing a shuffle, counting let-1, let-2...sounds so lame. I can't groove saying it. Uh-1, Uh-2, Uh-3 flows much nicer.
1 an uh just flows better for me. The only time I would count sextuplets is when I'm learning a new, difficult passage. Most of it I just sight read.