How Key Changes in Music Illustrate Pilgrimage -- and a Tribute to My Late Mom

In anticipation of mother's day, this post -- besides looking at something cool in music -- is a tribute to my late mother who was not only a wonderful mother, but she was a warrior for Christ and a true follower of Him, a devoted musical therapist for autistic kids, and a dear friend to her three sons (of which I am the youngest).

Before I explain more about the tribute, I'll explain that "something cool in music." There are some interesting little factoids about the Psalms in the Bible, and one of my favorites deals with the "Songs of Ascent." I'm referring to Psalms 120-134. These are the actual -- yes, the very words -- that, for millenia, Jews would sing when they made their annual pilgrimages to Jerusalem. Yes, even Jesus sang these psalms. The temple in Jerusalem is the highest elevation in Israel, so no matter where a pilgrim came from he or she was always ascending.

I think it's fascinating how music -- especially through key changes -- creates the auditory illusion of ascending, rising, going higher. This is accomplished because when keys go "higher" the collective notes in that higher key have frequencies that vibrate faster, and our ears -- and psyches -- hear this increased intensity of air compressing as a sensation of elevation, of ascending, of height. It's amazing.

My mom loved mountains and music (as a music therapist, it was part of her job), and she lived a life that was ascending, moving further in and further up into the Presence of God through her close relationship with Jesus. So, when I think of ascending the heights of mountains or ascending the peaks of music through key changes, I often think of my mom and her personality -- the way her spirit was always striving for something higher in life.

I wrote in more detail about this in the article link below -- a piece I wrote for Please check it out. It also contains an anecdote about my beloved late mother who loved backpacking and hiking in the "high country" almost as much as she loved Jesus:

And here's a pic of my mom on one of her backpacking trips many years ago -- with her three rascally sons in tow (I'm the Hobbit-sized one):