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Ottorino Respighi's Notturno is a Nocturne that begins in the key of F#. A melody is played atop the chords, however in bar 7 the melody hits the A note, which is the minor 3rd of the F# scale:

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This immediately creates dissonance and seems fully "out of context". I don't see an obvious "reason" for this dissonance.

What motivates this note in the composition?

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    Umm...that's not in F sharp is it. Its in G flat. So the A natural is actually a sharpened second not a minor third. – JimM Aug 5 at 21:36
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As JimM said in a comment, this piece is not in F♯ but in G♭. The A is thus the scale degree A♭, chromatically raised. It wants to resolve upwards to B♭.

If you want more motivation: the last harmony under the A is a chord with pitches (from lowest to highest) C♭E♭F A. Rearranging these to make a stack of thirds: F A C♭E♭. The A is, as I said, just A♭, chromatically raised. So without that chromatic alteration, we have F A♭C♭E♭, which is vii7. Or, if you prefer, V9 but rootless. Although it is not actually the chord of the dominant (it has no D♭), it resolves the way the dominant resolves, namely, to I.

And all this duly happens in the next bar after the passage you quoted.

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