Archive for Aug, 2013

Taking stock – Part 2

Continuing a stock take of the current status of my key perceptions.

E flat major: a large proportion of the grand music in this key is now in the neighbouring key of E major. What is notable is that in so doing the music has not lost its grandeur. Despite knowing that the music is now ‘in’ 4 sharps, I can still enjoy all that I enjoyed before. Yet I had never thought of E major as a ‘grand’ key before. The skittish light side of E flat major has not shifted as consistently as the grand. Again when it does there is little sense of loss, only a sense of change.

E major: the biggest loss is here. The small semitone shift from E major to F major lobotomises the music. E major is a key of love; a closeness where words are not required; a warmth that comforts deeply. To move the music to F major is a violation. So it is a joy when I find that, for whatever reason it be – mood, actual frequency of a performance or broadcast, – I hear (truly hear as with a soul mate) E major. The shift from E flat major into this key described one paragraph back should provide some compensation for the loss I feel. I should nourish E flat’s new state and make a ‘new’ key for these translocated pieces.

F major: One of the simple solid common keys, F major does not shift much at this stage in my presbyacusis. When it does, interesting things happen as described in my Brahms Requiem post.

F sharp major and G flat major: These two keys have almost completely disappeared. Their complex key signatures of 6 sharps or flats seem to have made them very weak in the context of my tonal perception shift. Something very similar to what happens to E major (see 2 paragraphs back) occurs with these two twin keys. I loved their depth. They are like deep, deep pools that have calm, smooth surfaces. Slightly different aural colours if I know which of the two pools a piece was written in, but in all other ways identical in their serenity and beauty.  So belittling them by moving them up to light, bright G major is a painful shock and a disappointment every time it occurs. I could choose cynical equanimity as a means of coping, but I won’t for now. I will honour the memory of the two keys by not coming to terms with their passing.

Taking stock – Part 1

I discovered recently that an upward shift in pitch perception is a well-described change in people of my age: mid-50s and beyond. A change of as much as a tone can be expected. The article I read did not comment on changes in key perception but one would follow from the other. And what about a concomitant shift in any feeling of a key’s character following this alteration?

I thought that it would be as well to take stock of where I am in this continuous change that I am undergoing. More change is going to happen. Let us see how much has changed since this process began.

There are strong keys and weak keys; keys that have proved to be much more strongly anchored in my psyche/neurology than others. And in some cases my pitch-related perception of a key may vary by the type of piece written in that key. If the music is typical of that key according to my interpretation of a key’s character, it is less likely to shift consistently than in a piece where the key does not really matter. So here goes

C major: one of the most grounded keys; hardly shifts, but has done so as described in the post on Haydn.

C minor: although this strong key (Beethoven’s tragic key, after all), it has not proved strong in my case. It easily vacillates into C# major, losing some of its power to move me in the process. Beethoven’s ‘5 and a halvth’ is not the same as Beethoven’s 5th!

C sharp minor: very characteristic pieces in this key such as Rachmaninov’s Prelude and the Moonlight Sonata have not shifted. Presumably they will some day. Other less significant pieces in this key go to D minor, a key that does not have a character so very different from this one – sad with a strong undercurrent of angst.

D flat major: sadly this key of multiple mellifluous flats with its sensual texture of flowing melted chocolate, white or dark, has almost completely moved into D major whose 2 spiky sharps add impish pinpricks to the sense of loss that occurs when I listen to a favourite D flat major piece such as the slow movement of Tchaikovsky’s 1st Piano Concerto or any of  the large number of Chopin piano works in the key.

D major: slow pieces in this key such as the slow movements of Mozart’s two largest works for clarinet (the Quintet and the Concerto) have pretty much all moved into E flat major. The quick music in this key is inconsistent, choosing either D or E flat in a pattern that I have not yet divined – if indeed there is a pattern. Beethoven’s symphonic bright D major movements such as in the 2nd symphony are still as full of D major gold as ever.

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