I have been thinking, lately, about music and how each note relies on the other.
Even the first simple songs we teach our babies — Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, for instance — require at least six notes, some whole, some half, with several quarters and eighths as well.
Add a couple of chords and, depending on the key, you’ll probably need some sharps or flats as well.
Music scores our lives; it gives it richness and depth. We identify certain times in our lives by the music we hear. “Stairway to Heaven” takes me right back to junior high and the awkward but beautiful dances we attended on the YMCA rooftop or in the school gym.
Every time I hear the Partridge Family’s “I Think I Love You,” I think about my six-year old self swinging in our backyard and singing it at the top of my lungs (mostly to annoy my brother and his friend Joey Watermolen).
A few notes of “Trumpet Voluntary” and I’m standing nervously in the back of St. Therese Church, waiting with my dad to walk down the aisle.
We choose songs for life events like weddings and funerals because they express the way we’re feeling at the time.
Music transcends religion and politics. It becomes a language unto itself, and expresses itself universally.
Can you imagine any of these tunes played on a single note? Or even in a single key?
Imagine a musical world void of dissonance. It would be a world without jazz.
Listen to “Summertime” and follow the magical and mysterious dissonance Gershwin creates.
Jazz actively seeks argument between two notes, retreats, and then argues again.
Gifted classical musicians like Debussy and Mahler understood the magic of discord as well.
I haven’t had a formal music lesson since I played a non-marching flute in the high school band, but I know this:
Music celebrated dissonance.
And so should we.