Wednesday, October 20, 2010

What do you see when you open your program at the theatre? A cast of characters:

Joseph, an old man
Gilda, his beloved young daughter
General McMuckamuck, commander of His Majesty's Army
A Sanitation Department worker

Already you are involved in the plot and the curtain has not yet gone up.

What does my sixteen-year-old student see when she opens her Beethoven Sonata in E major, Op. 14 No. 1, last movement? Four sharps, lots of A, A-sharp the first accidental followed soon by B-sharp. Aha! that makes six sharps! One is missing! Which one? E-sharp.

She sight reads the movement, not up to tempo, it's true, but not missing a thing. At the appearance of E-sharp she bursts out laughing: There it is!

When Beethoven transmutes the E-sharp to F-natural in order to proceed to the key of B-flat she gets the giggles. Now this is really funny.

All I recall from being that age was bafflement and a short attention span, certainly nothing bordering on an awareness of tones as characters in a drama.