Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Natural Horn and the Modern Piano?

Celebrating publication of Vol. I of Tone Perception Visualized, October begins a new series of in-house programs: Mozart: The Radical Ear.

No instrument better epitomizes that ear than the natural horn.  Two years ago a replica of the horn of Mozart's day entered our family -- my son, Jacob, is an avid player.  Together we have been learning this new sound, mostly via Beethoven's Sonata, Op. 17.  The work is particularly uninspiring played on a modern horn, but completely amazing on the instrument for which it was intended.

The work arouses my curiosity as to why Mozart did not write it: he might have, as his language is no less precise than Beethoven's.  I feel that the tuning, whether A=440 and equal temperament, is not so much the point of the work's precision as the vivid sense of how the black keys of the piano pick up aspects of the horn's dramatic pitch specificity.  The issue of black key / white key resonance on the piano may be said to be at the very heart of my work on pitch specificity, especially aroused in my child ear by Mozart in the key of G Major.

We will preface Mozart piano works with demonstrations of tuning: On third Tuesdays it will be with the natural horn; on corresponding Thursdays, with vocal tuning, with the audience taking part.

I invite your inquiries.