Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Never underestimate the power of an image. I am thinking a lot these days about the image of the major scale: Unfortunately it is imprinted on our brains both visually (as a ladder, primarily for ascending) and in sound (as an auditory symbol of utter stability). The fact is that the scale is, in a definition I read somewhere long ago and unfortunately did not write down the attribution, a combination of melodic fragments.

My work with Tonal Refraction permits musicians to depict the relationships between scale tones as they hear them, not according to the "correct" visual imprint. The results are surprising and have released seemingly intractable blocks to reading and to physical coordination. For me it has provided insight into the nature of musical themes, many of which express just such repositionings of the tones of the scale: Brahms Piano Trio in C, Op. 87, for instance, or many piano sonatas from all periods.

Many people hear the 6th degree of the scale as lower than the tonic. This re-formulation of the scale is frequently encountered in classical music.