THE MUSIC OF ‘AN ADVENTURE’






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Eleanor Jourdain revisited the Petit Trianon in January 1902 in order to check the ground against her and Charlotte Moberly’s recollections of their first visit in August 1901. She found all was different; she could not retrace their path, features were missing, the whole layout seemed much smaller and people were dressed in modern dress.

However she experienced the same eerie and oppressive feeling as before, and “then faint music, as of a band not far off, was audible. It was playing very light music with a good deal of repetition in it. The music was diminished in tone, as in a phonograph, unnaturally. The pitch of the band was lower than usual. The sounds were intermittent”. Afterwards she attempted to write down what she had heard (she was an accomplished pianist), and noted “This is an attempt to put down the musical notes I heard at the Petit Trianon in January 1902. The music was fragmentary; it began with the repetition of a note in the bass, and then a bar of melody worked in. When this was imitated in the bass there was an ascending passage in the treble of which I only keep general recollection and therefore I have left in in pencil. I have not a very keen musical ear, but I am accustomed to play with strings and my impression was at once that the instruments were not on full power, and that the pitch was below concert pitch”.

Inexplicably none of the five editions of ‘An Adventure’ included this music, and a good deal of controversy was generated by her statement that it’s pitch was lower than modern pitch. Musicologists ridiculed this statement, claiming that it was impossible to know the pitch of an unfamiliar composition in an unknown key.