Q: Hello. I am 14 years old and live in Japan. Now I am learning Chopin's Ballade No. 1. In Western music, the tonic has a special meaning. It makes a home base in music, and then the music is developed from this point. Pianists give a special touch to the tonic on piano. But sometimes, pianists give a special touch on the dominant. Could you eplain the reason for these differences?
A: Thanks for contacting me. You are correct that musicians give special emphasis to various tonal centers that exist in music. You can not always tell the tonal center by looking at a piece of music or analyzing it with music theory. In some cases it will be clearly defined what the key center is and at other times it will be up to the individual performer's aural perception to tell them what the key center is. In order to develop your aural perception you first will have to understand each notes distinctive sound against a key center. I would recommend you purchase Ear Training One Note Complete and Fanatic's Guide to Sight Singing and Ear Training and/or Contextual Ear Training in order to develop your skills in this area.
We highly recommend that all our Ear Training products be purchased as digital downloads. This way you are getting all the audio as MP3s and they can go directly into an MP3 player. MP3 players are very flexible as far as organizing the audio into play lists and you can use shuffle mode which allows the student many different options.