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.