My Dad and I talk about chords. How would you get from one key in a piece of music to another? To onlookers, it might seem as though we are playing a game of Mornington Crescent. But it makes sense to us.
This evening I put on the second movement of Ravel’s String Quartet in F, which I love. It’s a plucky effervesecent number, with a soaring, bowed second phrase in a completely different key. I sat down at the piano to work it out. The first section is in D minor, and the second part is in F# minor. The common note that allows the connection is A. But in all my years hammering things out on the piano I have never noticed this as a possible transition, in any key.
I heard in a piece of Ravel, but it I realise it has the sort of feel you get in early Radiohead, like Punchdrunk Lovesick Singalong. I feel like a whole new range of composition possiblities open up.
It’s a reminder of how exciting it can be to add a new colour to the palette, in whatever it is you are making. How could this fit in? What could I do with this? Where else is it used?
It’s also a reminder of just how valuable it is to go on looking, listening, discovering and figuring out how stuff works, and when we’ve figured it out, put it in our toolkit ready for the next invention.