There are two counting problems in the opening of Beethoven's Pathétique, Op. 13, 1st movement.

  1. How do the subdivisions of the beat work here?
  2. The tempo is very slow, so it can be hard to keep a steady pulse.

Here are the first two measures. Getting these should take care of what I'm looking for.

Beethoven's "Pathétique" Sonata, Op. 13, 1st movement, mm. 1–2

  • There's insufficiant detail for any good answers so far.
    – Tim
    Mar 14, 2021 at 17:40
  • 2
    It might helps us if you can explain why counting it "1 & 2 & 3 & 4 &", etc., isn't working for you. Mar 14, 2021 at 18:11
  • Please clarify: are you asking about counting for the purpose of "feeling" the pulse, or do you have trouble to realize the rhythm at all? May 7, 2021 at 22:02

2 Answers 2


In 8.

But maybe just a couple of times in 32 (well, 4 groups of 8) if you're having trouble grokking the rhythm.

ONE 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 1 2 3 FOUR FIVE 6 7 EIGHT ONE 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 ONE 2 3 4 (5 6 7 8).

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Would it be more approachable written like this? Same thing...

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Now, the decision whether to play it absolutely metronomically, slightly relaxed, or 'over-dotted' in 'French overture' style. Welcome to the wonderful world of musical (and historical) interpretation. The one way this sort of music ISN'T played is with rigid obedience to the notation. Enter the notes into a sequencer to remind yourself why!

  • For what counting should count (pun intended), I doubt any pianist would really count it like that. Mar 14, 2021 at 19:22
  • What, not in 8?
    – Laurence
    Mar 14, 2021 at 19:28
  • 2
    Well, "count in 8" usually means that you count 8 beats where there are 4 (so, eights in this case), and for this case it also makes sense: if that was an orchestral piece, the conductor would probably use 4 beats with subdivisions. The fact is that, while "scanning" all 32nds could help for precision, excessive subdivision is never really helpful in music, as in most cases the result that it breaks the phrasing, often making it sound more slow and "fatigued" than it should. Mar 14, 2021 at 19:37
  • And that is exactly the point I made! 32 if necessary to pin it down. Then 8 to perform. Sorry if my answer was that unclear!
    – Laurence
    Mar 14, 2021 at 21:34
  • 1
    No, you're not getting what I mean: "count in 8" means counting to 8 for each bar. So, in this case, it also means counting eights. Your "count in 8" means "8 for each beat" (so, technically it's more like "counting in 32" or "4 times 8"), and that's really not a good suggestion for the reasons I wrote above. Mar 14, 2021 at 22:32
  1. The subdivisions work the same way as they normally do, but the thirty-second notes are divisions of the subdivisions

  2. At very slow tempi the key is to make your counts fractions of a beat. I count this piece with one count for every half beat (so I'm counting in eighths). The 32nd notes then become a subdivision of the count:

1 (2) (3) a 4 a 5 (6) 7 (8)

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