For solo piano, about 16″

About the Music

The Ten Shape Preludes are so named because each prelude explores a pleasing shape in the hand or hands on the piano. I sat at the instrument with my hands on the keys to conceive each one, and I let my imagination be guided by the shapes that my hands, as a pianist, are naturally drawn to make. In this way, I hope the works are both idiomatic and graceful. While I wrote them with the powerful artistry of the dedicatee, Steve Beck, in mind, I wanted them to also be approachable for everyday playing—a combination of virtuosity and ease that brings to mind the Italian word sprezzatura (a studied nonchalance).

Each Prelude’s title contains a code for the shape(s) one or both hands make in it. I translate these here:

  1. Very Gently (5): the interval of a fifth is featured in the left hand
  2. Like the Wind (6-5-4-3): the intervals begin as a cascade of a sixth, fifth, fourth, and third against the first note in the right hand
  3. Murmuring (2-3-4): the intervals express a second, third, and fourth against the first note in the right hand
  4. Lightly (5-4, 6-4): the accompanying figure in the left hand expresses a fifth and fourth, then a sixth and a fourth against the first note of each gesture
  5. Driving (8): both hands feature the octave
  6. Pumped (4-3-6): the repeated opening figure features a fourth, third, and sixth against the first note
  7. Obsessively (6-5): the opening figure in the right hand features a sixth and then a fifth against the first note
  8. Flowing (6+7): the left hand begins with a sixth and the right hand with a seventh
  9. Cheeky (8 vs. 7): the two hands impishly alternate octaves and sevenths 
  10. Falling (HOH): instead of an interval pattern, this prelude features a hand-over-hand pianistic gesture

Look inside the score.

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Digital Edition PDF – $15.00