|Copyright Gary Larson|
MAY BE SAFELY IGNORED
Took a step up at last Monday's lesson. I'd been having problems learning We'll Gather Lilacs at home. In my own defence there are reasons: the version I'm learning represents the second voice in what will eventually be a duet. Thus the music is not familiar, nor immediately recognisable as melody; more like an accompaniment. But there was something else.
"Isn't a lot of this set in a minor key?" I asked.
Pleased I'd asked a musico-technical question, V said yes.
"Should I try singing some minor-key scales?"
Pleased this time by a question that was also half-intelligent, V started tinkling the ivories.
Major-key scales are easy: think doh, re, me... as we learned in primary school. Minor-key scales are not as intuitive; there are more half tones which means some notes are closer together and harder to hit precisely. By concentrating and relying heavily on the duffer's crutch (ie, repetition) I did better than I expected.
V sympathised. "Not everyone likes singing in a minor key."
Probably because minor keys are used for downbeat music. But then Mozart's symphony 25 is in G-minor, Bach's cello suite 5 C-minor and Schubert's piano sonata D784 A-minor; none is unremittingly sad.
There's more. When I sing:
And walk together down an En-glish Lane
the minor key turns the gap between "En-" and "-glish" into a difficult jump. When I first do it correctly it sounds alien. A second time and it sounds exactly right. I burst with pride.
Classical music isn't just about being hoity-toity; it nurtures animal spirits.