This morning, while I'm brushing my teeth, my husband read me this joke.
“C, E flat, and G walk into a bar and order a drink. The bartender responds, "We don't serve minors in here".
With my toothbrush in my hand, and a mouthful of toothpaste I give the customary chuckle. Suddenly, I realize my "customary" chuckle was as much a realization of the comedy in the joke as it was that only a certain segment of population might chuckle with me: the musicians. Hmmm. I also realized something wonderful about our most famously known C minor triad. Together, and only together, their value took on a meaning they could never have alone. The tone of C is rich, full and singularly basic. Add a G and round it out with a perfect wide and clean harmony. But, put an E FLAT in there and NOW you’ve got the something with purpose and deeper meaning: mysterious, dark, ominous and full of experiential significance.
C minor is the key of what many consider to be the most recognizable symphony of all time: Beethoven’s 5th Symphony (the music of dark fate relentlessly knocking at the door of your life). De De De DUM. You all know it! Imagine if there was no Eb, and it was replaced with E. De De De DA? Completely different, not even close, not the meaningful expression of a tormented man on a quest to reconcile the brilliance of his musical gifts with the tragedy of deafness that threatened to annul his very existence. Wow! That’s significant!
So what’s my point? Individually we all have intrinsic value that distinguishes us from each other. “C” is very different from “E flat”. However, they share similar attributes that provide them with the opportunity for partnership:
1. they are both notes (they are a function of their vibrations per second),
2. they both require a source of expression (something that makes the air vibrate, like voice or a piano, or a violin)
3. each of them have identical tones that can be expressed as different pitches (high C’s and low C’s)
4. they will always exist three doors down: (or 3 semitones apart).
These shared attributes make them perfect collaborators in the pursuit of deeper meaning. When they are well partnered, whether in succession or in harmony, C and E flat create feeling, and meaning that they could never do alone.
As artists we experience the significance of community when we bring our individuality into partnerships with others. Together we have potential for the greatest impact!
Imagine C E flat and G, together they become the key of the most recognized melody theme in the entire world (Beethoven’s 5th Symphony).