Tuesday, November 9, 2010

I often describe the difference between a D major and an E-flat major triad on the piano: the black-key major third in D causes the triad to be jarringly, ever-so-slightly out of tune, while the black-key tonic and dominant of the E-flat create the opposite effect.

A propos yesterday's post: I recall an eminent theorist speaking about the superior treatment by Schubert later in his life of a theme he had used earlier--the earlier setting in B-flat, the latet in A. The theme begins on and centers around the major third of the tonic triad. The speaker was nonplussed when I pointed out that it literally hurts me to play the theme in A, while in B-flat it has the opposite character.

Walking downstairs after the talk a fellow pianist confided her agreement with my observations.

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus; but no, Virginia, despite what many theorists would have us believe, all tonalities on the piano--indeed, on most instruments, are not alike.