This may sound dramatic. How can one lose a musical key? What door cannot be opened if one has lost this kind of key? Interesting metaphor!

My daughter was teaching herself to play Schubert’s wonderful Impromptu in G flat major. This rippling piece of contemplation with its brief but fully resolving shifts into the minor is one of the pieces I used to illustrate the link of the mirror keys of F sharp major and G flat major in the Keynotes programmes. The two keys sound exactly the same as they are based on the same note, G flat and F sharp being the same. in the Keynotes programme I link them to the infinite and the eternal.

It sounded as if my daughter had decided to simplify the piece by playing it in G major – exchanging 6 flats for 1 sharp.  I was hearing it in G major, a semitone higher. She was playing it in the written key. So I seem to have lost that piece’s emotional content. G major to me is light and bright, and this Impromptu cannot work for me in G major.

This evening I listened to some Haydn I had not heard before. The second movement of his keyboard trio number 26. Key F sharp minor. It was in G major (I thought). Very pleasant Haydn, relaxed but not deep. Unusual to choose G major for a second movement in a work in F sharp minor, but Haydn was an innovator. But then the music moved to the finale. In G minor! It could not be G minor in a Haydn Trio in F sharp minor, of course, but that was how I heard it and envisioned the notes of this minuet-rhythm music in a minor key. With that, I realised that I had been cheated of hearing the slow movement as Haydn had intended it. The only way I am going to hear it in F sharp major, the written key, is to digitally manipulate it.

I have subsequently done an experiment on myself: I sat at the piano and played the Schubert myself. With my fingers on the black keys as demanded by Schubert I heard it in G flat major. I closed my eyes and it was still in G flat as I played. Presumably the sense of where my hands were, told my brain to hear G flat as G flat.

Another nuance has appeared as she tries it out again. It sounded in G major before supper. When she went back to it after supper, it was in G flat. So – sated, I hear it differently!

Perhaps I should listen to the Haydn after a meal.

So perhaps I haven’t lost a key: it is intermittently missing…..