A Circle Of Fifths


It begins in the key of C Major and continues, modulating back and forth between relative majors and minors, adding harmony, polyphony and carrying the melody all throughout, allowing itself to become more difficult, going from the simple to complex and then back to the simplest form once more. It culminates again in a quiet octave accompanied by the deep throaty chords one can only play with the whole body. Resonating in the room, it reaches a single set of ears, maybe more, because one never knows who is listening.

There are those that never realize the close and intimate relationship of storytelling and music and then, there are those that know and yet find it difficult to put into words, so perhaps you can offer me a little forgiveness as I try to describe a world that has continuously lain parallel to every other world I have discovered, explored, and left. It is this world, a world of sound created when black mixes with white, that has most influenced who I am and who I am becoming. It is a world of risk, of no turning back and a world that requires you to bare your soul in the most raw, vulnerable form to all those within ear shot.

Like every young pianist, I began with learning proper posture, reading notes, scales and exercises, hoping to build a strong enough foundation to continue forward. As time went on, I learned more and the piano followed me into my adolescence, the distant and contemplative melodies of Debussy accompanying heartbreak and the spritely sounds of Mozart celebrating success in a dancing, laughing tone. I continued playing through my high school and into my college years, the piano becoming more than an instrument – it became my loyal and most steadfast confidante.

That is why I love playing the piano. Because while there is nothing like the thrill of walking across the stage to welcoming applause signaling the culmination of that particular year of achievement, playing the piano is not just about the auditions, the jury rankings, and the competitions won or lost. Throughout these fifteen years, the piano has become my companion. It holds me like a friend, the bench supporting my weight, the keys hugging my fingers without malice or judgment. It is strong, stronger than I, and so willingly shares in my stories of pain and heartbreak, and likewise is joyous in recounting tales of success and happiness. The piano never criticizes, only listens, allowing the completion of a healing process that can only begin when there are no barriers between the heart and reality.

When I sit at my piano, feeling the familiar grooves of the bench, the cool metal of the pedals beneath my feet, the ebony and ivory keys slipping gently beneath my fingers, it is at that time, like every time, that I know what it is to truly live.

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image – Marc Falardeau