I see that most online scores of Beethoven's "Für Elise" specify its meter as 3/8. However, this one has 3/4 instead, which seems to make it easier to read (all the 1/16th notes become 1/8). I don't see any advantage to using 3/8 there (except maybe showing respect for the author).

What is the purpose of using 3/8 instead of 3/4?

Does 3/8 give any hint on how the author intended it to sound like?

  • meters are time signatures. Why edit?
    – Tim
    Mar 23, 2014 at 19:15

1 Answer 1


Writing a piece in 3/8 rather than 3/4 gives the impression that it's played faster. It's snake-oil. With a proper tempo sign there should be no confusion. There are versions out there in 3/8. 3/4 and 6/4.The difference , as noted, is that the note values are shorter in 3/8,making it slightly more difficult to read, maybe, as semiquavers are on the menu.It shouldn't really make a difference, except for raw beginners. However, the piece was written for a young girl.I guess at the time, 3/4 was considered a more stately pace to play at, so Ludwig tried to put a bit more haste into it by writing in 3/8.

  • I personally often find 16th notes (for those who are unaware of it, semiquavers are 16th notes, quavers are 8th notes) easier to read than 8th notes, since the groupings stand out a bit more due to the extra beam.
    – BobRodes
    Mar 24, 2014 at 14:05
  • I know what you mean. Glasses solved that one for me...
    – Tim
    Mar 24, 2014 at 14:11
  • I tried glasses, and I still made mistakes.
    – BobRodes
    Mar 26, 2014 at 18:25
  • It all depends on what's been poured into those glasses, I suppose...
    – Tim
    Mar 26, 2014 at 22:05
  • 1
    If it is Scotch, I find that I never make any mistakes that I'm aware of.
    – BobRodes
    Mar 27, 2014 at 18:30

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