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Violin strings enter into the void. The first note pulses for a brief moment, before transitioning to the next. As if Nature applied the law of gravity to the melody,  the second note sinks deeper in volume. Fuller, as it intensifies in crescendo. Until suddenly, it slides into the next to later pierce the heart of the listener with an excruciating tension expulsed from a stacked pile of four mere notes...

The Tristan Chord.

An infamous chord introduced in the prelude of Wagner’s opera Tristan und Isolde that would scandalise the world in the 1800’s. A four-note harmony that would be struck with so much tension that the listener leaned forward in response, desperate almost for the resolution of this bewildering dissonance. A simple element of musical composition that would overlook conventions of that time to defy expectations in plain audacity.

And, it is with this chord’s rebellious break from musical norms and tension-filled character that make the subject an intriguing topic of discussion in terms of business strategy. (Stay with this, because there is most definitely a point to be made). It is not necessary to be familiar with the concepts of chromaticism, atonality or the musical name of the chord--a French augmented 6th with a long appoggiatura. Those terms are not relevant. Rather, for the first time in musical composition (for this harmony had already been used by other composers), here comes a disquieted, soul-seeking German man named Wagner who creates the harmony with no intention of using it correctly according to peremptory musical rules. He discards the function of the chord to explore the sound for its own merit. For four. long. hours. Until finally, he decides to release the tension at the end of the opera, like the letting out of air from a balloon. A climatic arrival to a resolution long sought after. And, in these musical ploys, there rest the core elements of a powerful business strategy.

Break the rules. Create and explore tension in and of itself. Sit with the sensation. Allow it to invade every corner to understand its full prominence. And, as it builds slowly, even tentatively, drive it towards climax to later leave the audience in a deafening silence.

Once there, the Tristan Chord of business strategy is no longer just tension brought by longing and desire of ill-fated lovers, as Wagner first intended. No, no. The Tristan Chord of such is the embodiment of subtle fundamentals in the art of seduction, that is, by which tension and appeal to emotion are the leitmotifs to resonate with an audience and spotlight the business’s grandeur.

For where words do not remain, the height of emotions reign.  


Sources: The Tristan ChordHow One Chord Changed The World: "Tristan" at 150

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