Tuesday, January 12, 2010

What makes a tone come alive is not all that different from what makes a word come alive. There are in music hidden clues that indicate the reference of tones to life sounds.

Sometimes we need these references to be pointed out to us as the sound referred to is not part of our culture. For example, the piano has a repeated F# in the Dvorak Dumky Trio. None of the other instruments is involved with that pitch at the time. I was told by my teacher, who was from Prague, that it was a tolling bell. Even contemporary Czechs do not recognize it.

For me this examples affirms the specificity of tones and tone references. It is not a foolish question to wonder where a composition originates -- why it is in such a key, centered on such a tone, why it drifts into this unlikely realm.