Have you noticed that sometimes there’s a particular moment that really grabs you in a piece of music?  It may be a chord change or a certain leap in a melody or a swell in the volume at just the right time; and its effect may be more than just something that gets your attention --- it may be truly a view into the sublime!

I actually crave those times and keep on the lookout for them, because that special moment that lifts my spirits or stirs my soul or grants a glimpse of the transcendent… is unutterably significant!

Even in some of my own music I notice some of those notable times, such as in the early part of the second section of the piece ‘Sky Through the Pines’ (written for False Cape State Park in Virginia): a leap downward from the third step of the scale to the fifth then fourth in the octave below, while the chord shifts from the I to the ii (in the key of D here, that’s from D to Em).  I watch for that as I play and coax it to speak as ‘my heart is strangely warmed.’  (In the embedded video it’s at 0:54.  And a few other moments --- often at junctions --- that I especially enjoy playing are at 1:19, 2:05, 2:17, and 2:35.)

I encourage you --- in listening, in playing, in composing, in improvising --- to search for these gifts and receive them.  Perhaps your soul will grow in grace like mine does in those places!

And when you are playing music yourself and are anticipating the excitement of a sublime passage, try to center around it the focus of the whole piece: prepare for its arrival in your phrasings before it, and respond to it in the phrases after it.

…To be continued in some more short discussions including ‘Three features of Beatles ballads,’ ‘The overall arch of a musical piece,’ ‘Emphasizing an arrangement’s inner voices,’ and ‘Secondary dominants.’