Sunday, February 24, 2013

Bored Again: A New Definition

One of my students, a scientist, knows that she is bored when she keeps looking at the clock.

In Classical style the equivalent of the clock is the inexorable four sixteenths to the quarter.  Yesterday I revisited one of the puzzling Beethoven sonatas in which what have always felt like agonizingly boring passages alternate with passages of extreme power.  Can't be.  Doesn't make sense.

Sure enough, that sonata (the "Spring" sonata for piano with violin) was composed at the same time as the "Moonlight," 1801.  Both share a fascination with the conflict between four-of-these equal one-of-those and odd numbers of repetitions or groupings: 15 sixteenths where one would expect 16  comparable to the Moonlight's 27 sixteenths where one expects 28. 

There must be more to it than counting in multiples of 2.