Friday, March 14, 2014

The Body and the Ear

For many years I have been testing Viktor Zuckerkandl's insight that musical logic brings about certain subconscious responses that indicate a kind of innate common sense.  Today, once again, I had ample and convincing proof that he was right.

It is a young woman, currently living without a piano, with no particular musical "talent," but whose ear is astute as it usually is in people for whom results do not come easily.  I have invented an exercise in which the student plays the same note an octave apart with the two hands, pedal down.  Then, at random, without changing the pedal, the student plays two other white key pitches, returns to the first pitch, and continues in this manner.

It was fascinating to observe the number of instances in which she gravitated to consonant intervals -- she has a pronounced preference for what she calls "right notes."  I know this is no accident because I observe it in others, including myself.  I used to be able to do this exercise myself but can no longer.  It is as if an involuntary measurer takes over and I go to octaves and fifths whether I "want" to or not.