Thoughts and Meditations from verses and stories through one guy's head and heart... Psalm 124:7
Friday, March 10, 2006
From Beethoven's Opus 1 Piano Trio no.3
Dissonance and Resolution
I have been reading about the life of Ludwig van Beethoven recently and have learned some really cool stuff… for instance: When Beethoven published his first work, (Opus 1: Three Piano Trios) his teacher, the European Master Franz Joseph Haydn didn’t like it. He thought that Beethoven was messing with the ‘form’ too much. It turns out that in a piano trio, the form called for two movements in a major key with a movement in a minor key in between them. (Now I know this is a little heavy in musical terminology, but hang with me, it’ll be worth it, I promise!) Beethoven’s first trio had two majors and a minor, but he opened the trio up with the minor movement which, according to Lewis Lockwood, “…breathed fire!” This brilliant young composer’s music was sometimes dark and foreboding, full of violent explosions of sound and carried out dissonant notes in ways and for lengths of time that had not been done before.
Dissonance is an interesting thing. Dissonance is defined as: “A harsh, disagreeable combination of sounds; discord, or a combination of tones contextually considered to suggest unrelieved tension and require resolution.” It may seem odd that composers would intentionally write dissonant notes into their music. Notes that don’t sound good together only work in music because the composer quickly resolves the tension by harmonizing the notes. When a piece of music is dissonant and then resolves into resonance, it is exceedingly beautiful… in fact, it makes us look back on the dissonance and say, “Those harsh notes were so beautiful… or the way they resolved was beautiful…” At some point it becomes hard to tell what it is that we liked, the dissonance or the resolution; it’s just all beautiful.
According to the Apostle Paul, God is like a composer writing a beautiful piece of music that we are a part of. In fact, we are called His “opus” in Ephesians 2. Like the works of Beethoven, this music that God is making with our lives is sometimes a turbulent storm of dissonant notes… Our lives are often full of discord and disharmony. We experience pain, loss, hurt, need, tragedies and trials and it’s easy to wonder, “If God is in control, why is life so dissonant?” Romans 8:28 tells us this: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.” That means that in everything that happens to us, He is still in control and He is working all of it together for our good. We don’t always know what He’s doing or how He’s doing it, but we can know that He is using all of it, working it out for our good, just like a Master Composer.
One day when our lives are over and we are with Him forever we will get to hear the finished piece of music… the score He has been writing since the days of Adam. When we finally hear it, we will be able to see how all of our dissonant notes were resolved by Him into beautiful harmonies and we’ll say that the dissonance made the resolution all the more beautiful. We will be able to see that He was always in control and that we were never outside of His hand. We’ll see then that it was all beautiful and that we were always playing in the Master’s score.