Five rows back, I’m close enough to see the sweat glisten on the first violin’s forehead, and the glimmer of light from the mezzo-soprano’s black diamante dress. The music draws me up from my seat and forwards over the four sparse rows in front of me. Towards the white-haired conductor, and away from my notes to self and the constant vibrato in both my hands and the black oblong case sitting empty in the corner of my apartment. My mind begins to drift over the stage, between the intervals of the melody.
Fifths are earthy, grounded, cycling through channels and strings with the flick of a full hand-
-but fourths are fresh, fresh like a newly-opened piano lid, metallic hopscotch leaps which are desperate to resolve, building a tension each time they rise that makes my neck and right foot jerk and tap with each upbeat and downbeat.
And I’m back there, in amongst the orchestra with my desk light and pencil, surrounded by the blaring reds of the brass, the succulent blue woodwinds, the greens of the strings: grass-green for violins and violas, olive for cellos and double basses.
Thirds, though, don’t have a colour. They’ve made their minds up: black or white, ebony or ivory, major or minor.
I can smell my old pot of resin, feel the slight tension rising just before one of each pair has to reach out and turn the page, taste the chords behind and beside and in front of me.
Seconds are what wrong notes feel like: squashed too close for comfort, pricking the pads of your fingers, the spanners in the wheels of the revolving fourths and fifths, trapped, hammered, broken, until-
Unison. The final chord. Applause all around the concert hall. I smile. The musicians stand up and bow. As one, they turn to their desk partners and shake hands. Mine are still shaking, too. I turn to my right, and then to my left, but the seats either side of me are empty.