Ninth Symphony (Ode to Joy) - Beethoven, Ludwig van
"Consider what Beethoven does to expectations with the melody to the main theme from the last movement of his Ninth symphony ('Ode to Joy'). These are the notes of the melody, as solfege, the do-re-mi system:
mi - mi - fa - sol - sol - fa - me - re - do - do -re - mi -mi re re
The main melodic theme is simply the notes of the scale! The most well-known, overheard and overused sequence of notes we have in western music. But Beethoven makes it interesting by violating our expectations. He starts on a strange note and ends on a strange note. He starts on the third degree of the scale (as he did on the Pathétique sonata), rather than the root, and then goes up in stepwise fashion, then turns around and comes down again. When he gets to the root – the most stable tone – rather than staying there he comes up again, up to the note we started on, then back down so that we think and we expect he will hit the root again, but he doesn't; he stays right there on re, the second scale degree.
The piece needs to resolve to the root, but Beethoven keeps us hanging there, where we least expect to be. He then runs the entire motif again, and only on the second time through does he meet our expectations. But now, that expectation is even more interesting because of the ambiguity: we wonder if, like Lucy waiting for Charlie Brown, he will pull the football of resolution away from us at the last minute."