I have noticed something with the scherzo from Beethoven's Ninth and particularly the beat. If I just listen to the scherzo and try to feel the beat, I feel an Allegro, say around 130 BPM at the triple meter Scherzo and around 140 BPM at the duple meter Trio. But, if I actually look at the score, I realize that the Allegro I am feeling is really the measures moving by extremely fast. The actual beats within the measures are going 3 times as fast, at 390 BPM in the Scherzo and twice as fast, at 280 BPM in the Trio. The Trio is actually slower. But it feels faster than the preceding Scherzo.
I think I know what is going on here. The beats are so fast that to my ears, they sound like mere eighth notes or triplets instead of beats and thus instead of the note feeling like the beat, the measure feels like the beat. Several pieces I have listened to have this Measure - Beat equivalence going on. So this is what I feel in the different sections:
- Section of the Movement - Tempo I feel - Actual Tempo - Meter I feel - Actual Meter
- Scherzo - 130 BPM, an Allegro, Tempo jump as we transition to the Trio - 390 BPM, faster than even your typical Prestissimo - 2/4, I feel a S w S w accent pattern to the measures - 3/4, the beats are just so fast that they feel like triplets instead of beats
- Trio - 140 BPM, faster than the Scherzo, Ritardando towards the end - 280 BPM, Very fast, but slower than the Scherzo - 2/4 still - Actually in 2/4
- Coda - 180 BPM, slow end of Presto - 360 BPM, in between the Scherzo and Trio in terms of tempo, but almost as fast as the Scherzo - 2/4 still - Actually in 2/4
Here is a video of it being played by an orchestra so that you can hear what I mean by the measures feeling like the beats:
And here is a link to the score so that you can see that what feels like the beats are actually the measures:
But, there are a lot of fast pieces that I listen to and don't hear this Measure - Beat equivalence in.
For example, here is a similarly fast part of a piece by Mozart:
And another similarly fast section of a piece by Chopin(which actually might be closer to the Beethoven scherzo than the Mozart example in how fast it is):
I don't hear a Measure - Beat equivalence going on here in either of these pieces and they both feel like they are at a similar tempo to the Beethoven's Ninth scherzo(both are at a Presto tempo). I hear and feel 2 beats per measure in both the Chopin and Mozart examples(Duple meter seems to be the most common meter for Presto pieces in general). Not so with the Beethoven's Ninth Scherzo where I feel that the measure is the beat.
So obviously with the Mozart and Chopin counterexamples, it can't just be a Presto tempo causing the Measure - Beat equivalence I hear in the Beethoven's Ninth Scherzo. Did Beethoven intend for the measure to be the beat in this very fast Scherzo from his Ninth Symphony? Did he intend it to feel like it is in 2/4 the entire time, even when it is in 3/4? Why am I feeling this Measure - Beat equivalence in the Beethoven's Ninth Scherzo, but not in similarly fast pieces by Chopin or Mozart?