Welcome to “Tonal Diversions”, a classical music appreciation blog. Through these articles I hope not only to bring your attention to specific musical works, but also to open the door to exploration within the world of classical music. While I will use music theory terms when talking about a piece, I will try not to overwhelm (or at least I’ll give a warning!). For those new to music theory, you may find the following sites helpful: Ricci Adams’ Musictheory.net and Virginia Tech Multimedia Music Dictionary. I’ve also added a music theory cheat sheet page. It’s a permanent link immediately under my header picture. I’ll also link to it now and then from within posts.
Music appreciation is not limited to those who have formal training in music. Even classical music, which I think seems intimidating to many people, can be accessible to anyone. You may not know the technical terms as to why you like something, but that doesn’t negate the fact that you like it. For me, I feel knowing the technical terms and music theory enhances the reasons I like the piece, though I would still like the piece even if I didn’t know exactly why! I loved music long before I had any training in it beyond my childhood piano lessons (which did eventually lead me to a Bachelor of Music degree). And thanks to cartoons such as Bugs Bunny and Disney’s Fantasia, we probably all know more classical music than we realize.
The pieces I discuss will be, simply put, pieces I like. There are plenty of books and blogs that cover “must-listen” classical pieces, or historically important ones, or pieces that you “should” like as a Proper Classical Music Enthusiast. I may cover some of those works, but it’s because I enjoy them. So I suppose I should post a disclaimer that this will skew heavily toward the Romantic era and later (Beethoven and Brahms onward) and that I have a particular fondness for wind music (concert band pieces, works for clarinet, etc.). But I’m sure some other pieces will sneak their way into the blog!
For some pieces I might highlight themes, moods, and the like**. Other times I might delve more into the music theory side of things, talking about keys, chords, and more. I will include time marks now and then to indicate when to listen for something I’ve pointed out (i.e. listen for the main theme beginning at 0:15).
So sit back, grab your speakers or headphones, and enjoy the ride!
**Theme: A melody or rhythmic phrase upon which the piece is built.
Mood: Does the piece sound happy or sad? Solemn or frantic?
Key: The series of notes (usually a scale) that form the main tonality of the piece.
Chord: Two or more notes played simultaneously.