A group of Jazz musicians from Philadelphia and New York came through Winnipeg in the mid 70s. They gave workshops before giving a big concert. I signed up for the piano session. It was with one of the first musical monsters I ever met, Stanley Cowell. He spoke to us (7 young pianists) about what’s happening on the piano in New York, watching him play it was apparent this situation was overkill, hiring Evil Knievel to discuss how to balance on a tricycle. He didn’t make us feel awkward, he was a gentleman, he said where I come from people are trying to have an independent left hand. I got that message and even though it was a long time ago, that idea remains never too far from my piano mind.
Sometimes people talk about different keys of music as if they are distinct emotions. Sister Rosetta Tharpe said B is the sad key, in an interview once, Dylan said E minor is the mystical key. Where do people get this certainty? And maybe it is true, but they seem equally sad or mystical to me. I’ve tried checking this out, paying attention to whether I have an emotional response, is there something I can articulate about this key or that key? And there is something emotional but isn’t that the potential for all music in any key? Plus each instrument affects the player by unique ways they are laid out physically. To play in E is different for the hands than to play in F etc. and that has a certain emotional response, me anyway. I do like the idea of this though, maybe because I just like the idea of music having super powers because it does. Like when the humans play 3 notes to aliens in Close Encounters of the Third Kind and then the alien ship responds with 2 notes that complete the phrase.