I have downloaded an early printed Beethoven sonata where the bass clef is upside down and looks more like a C? Why? What am I missing?

  • 8
    Can we see a picture?
    – Tetsujin
    Nov 10, 2023 at 15:19
  • Not sure what you're missing, but we're missing a picture!
    – Tim
    Nov 10, 2023 at 15:29
  • We need a picture. This could be one of the C-clefs.
    – ttw
    Nov 10, 2023 at 15:57
  • 3
    Is it vmirror.imslp.org/files/imglnks/usimg/6/60/… ? Nov 10, 2023 at 16:26
  • 1
    Voting to close as "needing details or clarity" Nov 10, 2023 at 16:50

1 Answer 1


That's common in old scores. I am quite sure I saw it on 19th century orchestra scores, although I cannot state one in particular.

Wikipedia has the answer. Check Wikipedia's page on clefs, there is a picture of an "inverted" F-clef:

inverted F-clef

It is said the F-clef "was, until as late as the 1980s in some cases (such as hymnals), or in British and French publications, written like this".

  • Thanks for contributing! It would be best to wait until the question is clear enough to answer, though. The wikipedia clef example looks quite different than the one on op 2 no 1 (although the main point is the same, that "it was just done that way"). Nov 10, 2023 at 16:49
  • 3
    @Bonner Well, as I had remarked many times this fancy shape, I felt the question was sufficiently clear. I will post some examples. Nov 10, 2023 at 16:56
  • 1
    But keep in mind that we're answering the user's question. The Wikipedia example curves in the opposite direction from today's F clef, i.e. with the concavity to the right. In that sense it's "like a C." But the 1st edition Beethoven score I linked to still has the concavity to the left, but curves more than a modern F clef (but less than this curlicue); its curvature makes it too "like a C." The question simply isn't clear yet, although as I said the answer is still probably "it was just a practice." Nov 10, 2023 at 17:11
  • 1
    @Bonner Then I'll wait before posting any example. Which are like the one in Wikipedia, not the one you posted, actually. Nov 10, 2023 at 17:20

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.