Sunday, April 23, 2023

Dissonance and the Music of the Night

I've just taught myself to play Andrew Lloyd Webber's phenomenal Music of the Night on the piano. Here's the orchestral version that was performed at the Royal Albert Hall featuring the one and only Ramin Karimloo. 

Since I don't have the sheet music, the last five chords of the piece stumped me (time stamp: 5:25). Then I figured it out. You go from F

to Dm

to Dbm (= Db, Fb, Ab)

to B

ands finally to C

The entire time you are playing a C note with your pinky, which, of course, clashes mightily with the second to the last chord (the B chord). B and C are NEVER played together because they create such dissonance. Which is exactly why everyone loves the ending of this piece so much. Try it on your piano at home. Play a single B triad (= B, D#, F#). At the same time, add a C an octave higher. The B and the C will clash. But you will LOVE the sound. I'm not a music theorist, but I suspect that's because consonant chords are sonic oatmeal -- great for a steady diet but boring as all get out. You'll soon want to throw in a dissonant chord to spice things up. 

To me, dissonance has always been a beautiful sound. It's like a splash of an extremely bright color on an otherwise tame canvas. Of course, you can get carried away with it. But it's a good reminder that sometimes people find music pleasurable because of its negative valance. I know I do.