Music in 3/4 time -- any suggestions?
February 5, 2008 5:40 AM   Subscribe

Music in 3/4 time: Any suggestions?

I love music in 3/4 time, although I don't know why. I'm into Chopin (Mazurkas, Polonaises, Waltzes), and the Strauss family. But I'm open to other suggestions, either classical or outside of classical. I've never really looked into South American music, a lot of which I understand is in 3/4 time.
posted by long haired lover from liverpool to Media & Arts (37 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Waltz in Black by The Stranglers
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 5:46 AM on February 5, 2008

There's so much music in 3/4 have plenty to choose from.

You might like fiddle music waltz's. Maybe the most famous right now is Ashokan Farewell by Jay Unger. It's played in pretty much every North American fiddle tradition. There are a million contra dance waltzs. Irish fiddle players play quite a few waltzs. They are very common in old time music.

There are a lot of waltz's in Tango music too.

Try this and this.

You might like this too...
posted by sully75 at 5:50 AM on February 5, 2008

Response by poster: Please read the question. I think an appreciation of Strauss means I know about "old time waltzes" (your search term of YouTube). I'm looking for interesting styles of music really. Maybe I didn't make that clear.
posted by long haired lover from liverpool at 5:57 AM on February 5, 2008

Response by poster: There's so much music in 3/4 have plenty to choose from.

Yes, but I'm looking for recommendations. That's why I'm posting here rather than Googling.
posted by long haired lover from liverpool at 5:57 AM on February 5, 2008

Dear Doctor by the Rolling Stones.
posted by Ironmouth at 5:59 AM on February 5, 2008

Most of Neko Case's "Furnace Room Lullaby" is in 3/4. But it's not even remotely classical - more torchy alt-country. Good stuff nonetheless.
posted by notsnot at 6:09 AM on February 5, 2008

There are Liszt's Mephisto Waltzes, and the lesser-known Valses Oubliées ('Forgotten Waltzes'), of which I particularly like nos. 2 & 3.

And how about Ravel's Valses nobles et sentimentales or, a favourite of mine, La Valse?
posted by misteraitch at 6:12 AM on February 5, 2008

There are quite a few Elliott Smith songs in Waltz time. Here's one, called Waltz #2.
posted by tiny crocodile at 6:13 AM on February 5, 2008

I'd recommend max roach and his jazz in 3/4 time. Of course, for another version of the beautiful "valse hot", maybe more relaxed and waltzing smoothly, I would recommend +4 too.
posted by nicolin at 6:16 AM on February 5, 2008

Leonard Cohen has a few too: Take this Waltz is a personal favourite. And for something completely different, how's about Mogwai's Waltz for Aidan, for which someone on youtube has done a really nice video.
posted by tiny crocodile at 6:21 AM on February 5, 2008

By the way this is a great question.
posted by tiny crocodile at 6:23 AM on February 5, 2008

Clem Snide has some great songs in 3/4. Check out their first album, Your Favorite Music.
posted by tiburon at 6:34 AM on February 5, 2008

My Name is Jonas by Weezer. Off of the self titled blue album.
posted by ericales at 6:41 AM on February 5, 2008

Ignoring the irrelevant video, Savatage's Morning Sun is a notable example of a hard-rocker in 3/4. Their later albums have some other examples, too.
posted by Wolfdog at 6:43 AM on February 5, 2008

Coltrane--My Favorite Things
Miles Davis--Someday My Prince Will Come
Toots Theilman--Bluesette
Cracker--Dr Bernice
Red Hot Chili Peppers--Breaking The Girl
Pariament--(you're a fish and I'm a) Water Sign
posted by sourwookie at 6:49 AM on February 5, 2008

Many movements of well-known larger works are in triple meter. Here's some of my favourites:
  • Beethoven, Symphony No. 3 ("Eroica"), third movement
  • Berlioz, "Serment de Reconciliation" from "Roméo et Juliette"
  • Dvorak, Symphony No. 8, third movement
  • Elgar, "Enigma Variations" (although a few movements may be in duple meter, I think)
  • Prokofiev, Symphony No. 5, third movement (this one's in 9/8 — double your triple-meter goodness!)
  • Resphighi, "Pines near a catacomb" from "Pines of Rome"
  • Saint-Saëns, Symphony No. 3 ("Organ"), final movement (this one will make you think of cute pigs)
  • Shostakovich, Symphony No. 5, second movement
  • Stravinsky, "Kashchei's Infernal Dance" from "The Firebird"
  • Tchaikovsky, Piano Concerto No. 1, first movement (opening section)
Based on the preferences you list above, I'd guess that you'd most like the Saint-Saëns and the Tchaikovsky out of these.
posted by Johnny Assay at 6:50 AM on February 5, 2008

Seconding Ravel La Valse, but what about Bolero?
posted by ob at 7:14 AM on February 5, 2008

Stephen Sondheim's A Little Night Music (wiki,, YouTube 1, YouTube 2, YouTube 3, YouTube 4 ) is composed entirely in 3/4 or related meters.

It's perched halfway between musical and operetta, and betters both, I think, by being a fully realized narrative inside a complex and beautiful score.

Caveat: Most of the YouTube excerpts available (with the exception of the first two I linked above, which feature 1) Dame Judy Dench performing the one song from the score you probably already know and 2) a great performance one of the large numbers from a Sondheim tribute concert at Carnegie Hall) are from the 1990 production at Lincoln Center ...which features great voices and truly awful acting.
posted by minervous at 7:28 AM on February 5, 2008

There are some good klezmer waltzes out there. A few songs that come to mind:
- the middle section of "Tsirkus" by Flying Bulgar Klezmer Band
- "Ershter Vals" by the Klezmatics
- "Di Goldene Pave" by Chava Alberstein and the Klezmatics
- Klezmer Waltz by Margot Leverett & The Klezmer Mountain Boys
- "Flatbush Waltz" by Andy Statman
- "Medyatsiner Waltz" by Metropolitan Klezmer
posted by bassjump at 7:46 AM on February 5, 2008

Here's Hold You In My Arms from the wonderful Ray LaMontagne. The genre is American folk.
posted by teleskiving at 7:54 AM on February 5, 2008

When I Grow Too Old To Dream (This Linda Ronstadt/Kermit version is quite nice)
Someday My Prince Will Come - the Miles Davis version is considered canon in Jazz, but personally I don't care for most Miles Davis
Waltz for Debby by Bill Evans is sublime.
The Great Pumpkin Waltz (crappy amateur big band) by Vince Guaraldi (although out of season, I've always loved his O Tannenbaum)
A Child is Born Oscar Peterson

And if you want to melt your brain, try to find a recording of Robert Jager's Suite #3 for Concert Band. The second movement is a waltz, but most of it is alternating bars of 3/4 and 2/4.
posted by plinth at 8:22 AM on February 5, 2008

Bright Eyes' "We are Nowhere and It's Now" is a very pretty song.
posted by Weebot at 9:05 AM on February 5, 2008

Norwegian Wood - The Beatles
posted by candyland at 9:18 AM on February 5, 2008

Mexico - Cake
John McCrea, at a live show "What. Is. Wrong. With this country, that we can't settle down. And listen. To a song in 3/4 time on the weekend?!"
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 9:27 AM on February 5, 2008

You could listen to the middle eight of "We Can Work It Out."
posted by L. Fitzgerald Sjoberg at 9:37 AM on February 5, 2008

Most third movements of late 18th and 19th century symphonies are the "Trio" or "Minuet" and are usually in 3/4. Among my favorites:

"Scherzo" (Third movement)from Beethoven's Third Symphony
"Minuet" from Mozart's Eine Kleine Nacht Music

Parts of Scheherezade by Rimsky Korsakov are in 3/4. Most of the piece is in 3/4 and 6/8. I bet you would really like that.
posted by frecklefaerie at 10:22 AM on February 5, 2008

um..."Old time waltz" refers to old time Appalachian fiddle playing, nothing at all to do with classical music. So I guess, perhaps read the answers before asking me to read the question? I was trying to help you out.

BTW a lot of the jazz mentioned here is actually in 6/8. But I guess you know that already.
posted by sully75 at 11:12 AM on February 5, 2008

Afro Waltz off of Afro Rock by John Cameron. Funk in 3/4. MeFi mail me.
posted by phrontist at 11:37 AM on February 5, 2008

The Weakerthans have a couple great waltzes off their most recent record.

Virtute the Cat Explains Her Departure

Oh, look, here's a playlist with both of 'em.
posted by wemayfreeze at 12:16 PM on February 5, 2008

Progressive Metal in (mostly) 3/4:
Symphony X -- Revelation
posted by LordSludge at 1:16 PM on February 5, 2008

More well-known prog: Tool -- Ænema
posted by LordSludge at 2:52 PM on February 5, 2008

I definitely recommend:

• Tchaikovsky: Fifth Symphony, third movt. (Valse)
• Tchaikovsky: Serenade for Strings, second movt. (Valse)
• Dvořák: Serenade for Strings, second movt. (Tempo di valse)
posted by tepidmonkey at 3:22 PM on February 5, 2008

Sarah Harmer - Oleander
posted by onshi at 4:01 PM on February 5, 2008

I can't pass up an opportunity to recommend the album Exotic, by Dolorean, if you're willing to get far outside of classical. Not all of the tracks are in 3/4, but at least take a few minutes to preview - it's fantastic stuff.
posted by Bun at 8:52 PM on February 5, 2008

Nude from the most recent radiohead album is in 3/4 time.

There are some Elvis Costello songs in 3/4 time, but I'm blanking on names (I think there's at least one on Imperial Bedroom).

Someone already mentioned Elliott Smith.
posted by sparkletone at 10:03 AM on February 6, 2008

Nude from the most recent radiohead album is in 3/4 time.

Actually. On further reflection, it's really in 6/8 time. But, um. I guess you could notate it in 3/4 if you were bored or something.
posted by sparkletone at 7:18 AM on February 7, 2008

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