Beethoven - Für Elise (piano solo)





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Uploaded on Nov 3, 2008

Für Elise, by Ludwig van Beethoven, played by Stephen Malinowski, with bar-graph and conventional scores.

Q: I appreciate the animated graphical scores you make; how can I support your work?
A: Thank you! The easiest way to support my work is by contributing via Patreon:
If you'd like to help in more specific way, consider this:

Q: Can you please do a video of _______?
A: Please read this:

Q: Where can I get the music for this piece?
A: The score in the video is available for free here:
And here's a version for a solo melody instrument (like flute):

Q: What does "Für Elise" mean?
A: For Elisa; read more about it here:

Q: I am trying to learn this piece, but the rhythm is confusing. Help!
A: You are right, the rhythm is confusing. I had the same trouble when I was first trying to learn the piece. The reason for this is that Beethoven is playing a rhythmic trick on us; the piece is notated in 3/8 time, but the notes sometimes form 3/8 groups and sometimes form 3/4 groups (or, at the beginning, 2/4). I’ve made a version of the score that shows how this works; you might find that it is easier to learn from this:

Q: I want to learn to play the piano; what advice can you give me?
A: I've put some suggestions here:

Q: Did Beethoven write this when he was deaf?
A: Beethoven started losing his hearing in 1796, when he was about 26 years old; Carl Czerny said that he could hear music in 1812, but he was almost completely deaf by 1814. He wrote Fur Elise 1808 and 1810, so he probably could hear it, at least a little. In any case, he could certainly hear it perfectly "in his head," since he could read music (and hear in it his "mind's ear") just as easily as most people can read words.

Q: What is that obnoxious high-pitched sound?
A: Here is a version with that sound removed:
(At the time I made this video, YouTube was doing compression on the audio tracks, which made quiet music like this get louder and softer in ways that were not in the original recording. If you mixed in a loud high-pitched tone, the compression software would think that the video was always loud, and would not do any compression; it would also filter out the tone. But more recently, YouTube changed this, and now the sound comes through.)

Q: What do the colors in the bar-graph score mean?
A: The colors indicate the "pitch class" of the notes; that is, every A is a certain color (blue), every B is a certain color (olive green), etc. The piece is in the key of A, so there's lots of blue, especially at the beginning and end. The choice of colors is based on the "circle of fifths," which you can read about here:
This method of coloring notes is described more here:
Because this form of coloring reflects tonality, the places where the piece moves into another key are easily visible; here's a picture of the whole piece:
BTW, the colors are more distinct in the high-quality version of the video.

Q: How did you make this video?
A: See the production notes:

Q: How long have you been playing the piano?
A: Here is my chronology:

Q: Is there a way I could make the bar-graph scores myself?
A: The Music Animation Machine MIDI file player will generate this display; you can get the (Windows) software here:
There are lots of places on the web where you can get MIDI files; I usually go to the Classical Archives site first:

Q: Why do the scores move at different speeds?
A: The bar-graph score is graphical, and in it, time translates exactly into horizontal position; conventional notation is symbolic, so there is usually one symbol per note, regardless of whether it's a long or a short note, and the symbols are more or less evenly spaced (for legibility); so, when the notes are faster (like at 1:40), the notation needs to move faster to keep up.

Q: The notation is too fuzzy to read.
A: Try watching the high-quality version.

Q: Please tell me something interesting about Beethoven that I can put in a paper for class.
A: Sorry, no.

Q: Why did you play this so slowly?
A: The piece is marked "poco moto" ("with some motion"), which is pretty vague, but I'm guessing that Beethoven probably intended it to be played a little faster. I chose a slower tempo to make it a little more romantic, a little sweeter, a little gentler.

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