Friday, July 18, 2014

Invitation to Hilarity: Count the Notes

I just had the incredible experience of testing one of my theories of musical composition and ending up in a state of absolute hilarity, imagine that.

Mozart K. 283, his only Piano Sonata in G, fascinates me because it drove me to nightmares as a child.  The question of how and why is not a small question.  Today I think I found the answer.

I have long suspected that it had to do with his exploration and exploitation of the single contrasting black key (F#) with the predominantly white-key consonance of G.  If that be the case, I said to myself this morning, then he must have intensified this by presenting F# in the vertical company of all 11 other possible tones.

So I counted them as they occurred:  I got all six white keys of the G scale easily enough; then came the accidentals:  C# E-flat G# A#  - something's missing.....must be E#, I surmised.  I looked harder and there it was, within the final cadence of the first movement:  F natural, loud and clear.

Why hadn't I noticed it before?  Good question, when it contained the clue to the whole procedure. 

Not only that, but at the very end of the movement, when I had all but given up hope of deciphering the riddle.

Who but Mozart would play such tricks?  Answer:  Any of the generations of composers who have sought and still seek to emulate his approach to the splendid art of listening.  For that must be why it works to the extent of causing a child to have nightmares:  that sense of something missing, something elusively tantalizing, a riddle to be solved not just a piece to be played.