Create a Tuplet of Any Ratio in Sibelius

Q: How can I get Sibelius to create 16th septuplets in a bar of  6/8 without the duration dots?


A: It’s a great question. By default, if you select a 16th note or rest on the downbeat in 6/8 time and create a default septuplet (CNTRL-7 Windows or CMND-7 Mac), you end up with an extra 8th rest:


This is because Sibelius is interpreting the default septuplet request as 7 sixteenths in the space of 4 sixteenths (2 eighths). However, for the above case, it should actually be 7 sixteenths in the space of 6 sixteenths.

Fortunately, a simple solution can be found in Sibelius’ Tuplet dialog. Here, you are given the flexibility to enter the tuplet value as a specific ratio.

To open the tuplet dialog in Sibelius 7.x, select Other from the Tuplets group popup in the Note Input Tab:


In Sibelius 6, select Tuplet… from the Create Menu.

Enter the tuplet ratio, in this case, 7:6. The Format section of the dialog allows you to display the tuplet value as a number, a ratio, or hidden:


The end result is a tuplet that correctly  spans the full beat duration without requiring duration dots:


That’s all there is to it.


for my friend and colleague Lior Rosner.

11 Replies to “Create a Tuplet of Any Ratio in Sibelius”

  1. Any idea why you can’t do 6.8 (six eighth notes over three beats)? It wants to write them as 16ths, which isn’t really correct.

    1. Hi Patrick – There might be a use case I’m not aware of, but to create six 8ths in the space of eight 8ths in 4/4 time, I create an eighth rest or note, open the tuplet dialog while that note or rest is selected and type 6:8 as a ratio in the Tuplet dialog entry field as shown above. The appropriate tuplet grouping fills the bar.

      I imagine you are referring to a use case where the total number of available beats is less than that.

      To fill the duration of a half note with six 8th notes, use the ratio “6:4” (four 8ths equal a half note); to fill the duration of a quarter note with six 8th notes, use “6:2” (two 8ths equal a quarter note) and so on.

      Does that work for you?


  2. Great article Robert. Takes the mystery out of n-tuples in Cubase. Even the reference manual doesn’t dig into an explanation. A lot more examples could be given to further explain the concept, but there probably isn’t the demand by many composers. This is probably the most lucid example so far on the internet or in existence. It gives you a basis for applying n-tuples in a variety of situations. I used it to create a Sibelius score for Ravel’s Mother Goose, the fifth fairy garden variation for 7 and 14 tuples. I’m curious as to how you came upon your knowledge of n-tuples. Did you figure it out by trial and error or is there a source that sheds additional light on the topic out there?

    Thanks for your effort,

    Bill McFadden

    1. Thank you for the good words, Bill! Glad the article was of interest and use. This type of “hidden feature” is actually not too common in Sibelius; most capabilities in Sibelius are instantly clear.

      Finale has a tuplets dialog that allows the user to define any number of tuplet ratios, which is why I was familiar with the concept in the Sibelius tuplets dialog. It’s worth mentioning that Finale *also* includes the ability to fit a group of x notes of one duration into a group of x notes of another duration, which makes for even more possibilities.

      Thank you again for your comment.


  3. Hi Robert! I found yet another obstacle in this subject. I am writing a piece in 11/8 (3,2,3,3) (a fairly normal time signature in Balkan folk music), and I have the need to write quintuplets in several of the 3 groups. I successfully did it in the 1st group (thanks to you, thank you so much!!) but whenever I try to do it on the very last group, it says “this is too big to fit in this tuplet.” Any idea how to fix this, or even why this happens?? Thanks!!!!

    1. Hi Nuno,

      Creating a quintuplet in the last beat of an 11/8 bar actually works for me, so if I were to guess, I would think that the beat grouping of the meter is set to 3,3,3,2 rather than the 3,2,3,3 you are looking for.

      When you first create the time signature (T) select More Options, then in the Time Signature dialog, choose “Beam and Rest Groups…” Look for “Group 8ths (quavers) as:” and make sure the beam and rest groups are set correctly to support your quintuplet.

      If you have already entered your meter and have note input completed for the most part and beam groups set visually the way they should be elsewhere, select just the bar you want to enter the quintuplet on the last beat in (or from there out if you haven’t already done entry past this point) and choose the Beam Groups from in the Appearance tab.

      There, you will find the same Beam and Rest Groups dialog as is available from within the time signature dialog, and you can first define the meter as (3,2,3,3) to allow the quintuplet on the last beat.


  4. Reading your thread, I’m trying to produce quintuplet over 2 beats, and I’m getting a message of too long for the tuplet. I’m using Sibelius Ultimate. Any ideas?

    1. Hi Trissa – for this case, you need to use the Tuplet dialog rather than just typing Command (or Control) 5 for the quintuplet or selecting Quintuplet from the menu (select OTHER from the dropdown in Sib 7 or later). When the dialog opens, type 5, colon, and then the number you want to fit to, as it relates to the note duration. So, for instance, if you want 5 eighth notes to fit into two quarter note beats it would be 5:4 (5 eighths in the space of 4). Let me know if you can’t get it working this way!

    1. Hi Francis. If you mean two regular crochets followed by quintuplet quavers, first enter the two quarter notes (crochets). Then, enter the first 8th note (quaver) that you want as quintuplets on beat 3. Now with that note selected, go to Note Input > Tuplets dropdown and select Other. When the dialog opens, type in the ratio of 5:2 (five quintuplet quavers in the space of two quavers). OK the dialog.

      If you are filling the *entire bar with a tuplet* including the crotchets as well under the tuplet, this is also possible. The trick here is to start with the quaver value. This tuplet would actually be 9 quavers (4+5) with the first four combined into two crochets.So, in this case with the first quaver selected, open the Other tuplet dialog and specify 9:6 (9 in the space of 6). Once you exit the dialog you will see the tuplet specified and you can change the first 4 quaver values to to crochets.

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