She heard him out in the kitchen when the music stopped. She heard him go to the piano and plink with two fingers a tune whose name she did not know but which she had surely heard from the radio in Vicki’s room. ‘Tsk,’ she said. ‘He would play that kind of stuff.’ She stepped into the passage, thinking herself safe and superior; but he struck one quiet chord, a wide blue one, a chord from the kind of music she knew nothing about and was too tight to play; she stood still, listening, and he left a silence, and then he resolved it.

I was reading a novel that I came across this: quiet chord, a wide blue one

Does "quiet chord" mean "minor chord"?

And does "wide blue one" mean "keys that are blue and wider than other keys"?

Do keys in piano have different colors?

Source: This passage is from The Children's Bach by Helen Garner

  • Some people, with synaesthesia, see keys in different colours, smell them differently, taste them differently, and apply different feelings to them, etc. However, probably nothing to do with the quote. From whom?
    – Tim
    Commented May 27, 2021 at 15:58
  • 4
    Makes me think she's a classical player with little knowledge of jazz/blues. She recognises the resolution, but not the chord itself except to know it's bluesy & something she's never played. Even if she recognises the notes & the name of the chord they make, it's a genre outside her experience & comfort zone. Quiet just means 'not loud' but bluesy could contain major/minor tensions rarely heard in classical. Wide is just literally a long reach between the notes, which changes the 'flavour' of the chord.
    – Tetsujin
    Commented May 27, 2021 at 17:31
  • I'm curious: What is the source of this passage?
    – Theodore
    Commented May 27, 2021 at 17:47
  • 1
    I edited my question and added the source. Commented May 27, 2021 at 18:57

1 Answer 1


Judging from the rest of the passage my takeaway is it is simply a chord that is “bluesy”, having the quality of blues music, and by “wide” it probably indicates a chord played with several notes and the hands spread across the keyboard.

The person listening has a musical background and this type of chord seems to be something that is outside of her knowledge and comfort zone.

  • 1
    @ViserHashemi Not necessarily sad but something quiet that was different than what she is used to and surprised her. Also because she “felt superior” before he played it, it was something that was beyond what she thought he was capable of. Commented May 27, 2021 at 16:38
  • 4
    I would interpret “Tsk” to be literally the sound she made to voice her disapproval. merriam-webster.com/dictionary/tsk
    – wabisabied
    Commented May 27, 2021 at 21:31
  • 3
    @ViserHashemi it is actually this: en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dental_click#In_English it is a phonetic spelling of a clicking sound made with the mouth to express disapproval like wabisabied said in a previous comment. Commented May 27, 2021 at 21:57
  • 1
    Lots of thanks for your comments, So "Tsk" mean: she made Tsk sound by her mouth to show her disapproval, and she thinks he is able to make only that kind of sound. am I right? Commented May 28, 2021 at 7:05
  • 1
    @ViserHashemi It was my pleasure and yes, you are right. Commented May 28, 2021 at 7:08

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