I remember…reading? Hearing? My memory isn’t awesome on the specifics. Anyway, I remember learning something about music awhile back. The author of the piece was a musicologist, and he was talking about composition. More than that, he was talking about the desire to hear something–a melody, a phrase, a movement, a symphony–resolve. There are ways to make a piece seem to resolve. I’m butchering this already, and my music theory isn’t amazing, but I just asked David about it and he confirmed what I was going to say. In Western tonality, you often begin on a tonic–let’s just say the starting note for the layperson–and move away from it, until finally, in the resolution, you return to the tonic. The piece is all about how you subvert the audience’s expectation of returning there, how you tease them and almost resolve then move away and change the melody and the intervals and the rhythm until finally, finally, when they just can’t stand it anymore, you let them have what they wanted and return to that tonic.
And of course, you hope they realize that that movement away from what they wanted to hear was the best part. That was the piece.
I love the idea of music as a process of teasing. I think that single concept could help a lot of people without formal training to make more interesting and compelling music. I also like the idea in general that the pursuit of what you want can be something to savor as much as actually receiving what it is you want. Maybe by the time you get there, you realize you wanted something else; even something you already found during the journey.
I’m trying to take time throughout my days to remember that I’m in the middle of the piece, and that any lack I feel, any area that seems unresolved, is part of what makes it so interesting.
It’s what makes the piece beautiful.