Sus Is For Suspense
(a pianistic bagatelle in prose)
It was a dark and stormy sonata. The pianist hunched over the old, decrepit instrument and expertly coaxed a legato tone from the worn-out soundboard. He feathered the keys with a light touch, and didn’t let the broken pedal dampen his mood.
The music sounded much better than the elderly lady had expected, and she attributed this to the skill of her visitor. After all, not many young men his age could play a rundown instrument with such sensitivity. She relaxed and smiled faintly as the haunting harmonies filled the air.
As one chord melted into the next, the melodies shaped themselves accordingly. 7ths descended into 3rds, and dissonances resolved themselves naturally. “Major and minor chords are a miracle of nature,” the old woman reflected. She remembered hearing a piece very much like this one at some time in her distant past. With eyes closed, she allowed herself to be transported by the young pianist’s efforts.
She was on the verge of falling asleep when a new musical passage began disturbing her reverie. An unexpected harmony kept appearing now and again, which brought a sense of tension not only to the music, but to her frame of mind as well.
“When he’s done playing, I must ask him what that intriguing chord is,” she thought to herself. As the tension increased and the music grew louder, she became more and more agitated. “What is this chord that’s so maddingly unresolved?” her thoughts practically screamed. When the suspense finally became unbearable, she opened her eyes and shouted, “Please won’t you tell me what that infernal chord is?”
But in the dim room, there was no one to ask. The silent piano stood there as it had for decades, and among the dusty keys there were three that were stuck in their pressed position: E, A, and B. With a startle, she realized they spelled out a “sus” chord. Silently, perpetually unresolved.