Counting eighth notes in the Moonlight
Question: In the Moonlight Sonata, the beat is Common at 4/4, but each measure has three eighth notes tied together, which I usually count as one-and-two-and, etc but the 4 beat count doesn't come out right using that how do I count the eighth note beats to get 4 beats per measure? - Bob

Answer: Should be possible to straighten this out. For those who just walked in, that's the first movement of Beethoven's Piano Sonata Op. 27, No. 2 in C minor, which along with the 5th and 9th Symphonies and Für Elise probably is among Beethoven's top four all-time hits, and deservedly.

It's actually in "cut time," or 2/2, which looks the same as 4/4 on the page but technically has only two beats per measure - very slow beats in this case. But it's in 2 because the harmonic changes generally come two to a bar.

You can still count it in 4, however, but keeping in mind that the 2 and 4 are really each just the second half of 1 and 3.

But as for those slurred eighth notes: you're going to get in trouble trying to count those as "one and two and." Each set is a group of three. You need to count them as "One and a, Two and a, Three and a, Four and a" if you're counting the measure in four. That is to say, these are triplets, though the triplet is usually unmarked.

Here's what it looks like in the first several measures, with a plausible counting written in:

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