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Twenty Four Preludes

Discussion in 'Composing' started by StevenOBrien, Jun 16, 2012.

  1. StevenOBrien

    StevenOBrien New Member

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    Greetings!

    I've just finished writing a cycle of twenty four preludes for piano in every key. This work has been quite a labor for the past 7 months of my life, and I'm absolutely overjoyed to be able to share it with you all. I hope you all enjoy it and I look forward to hearing your thoughts, questions, feedback, suggestions, etc. etc.


    Listen
    http://soundcloud.com/stevenobrien/sets ... udes-op-2/

    Score
    http://www.scribd.com/doc/94567505/Twen ... ludes-Op-2

    Etc.
    MP3s: http://www.steven-obrien.net/Portfolio/ ... MP3%5D.rar
    Sibelius file: http://www.steven-obrien.net/Portfolio/ ... Op%202.sib
    MIDI file: http://www.steven-obrien.net/Portfolio/ ... Op%202.mid

    I apologize in advance for providing MIDI realizations instead of actual performances. I've tried my best to make them sound as pleasing as possible, but obviously they'll never live up to the real thing. I really hope to one day have them recorded (My ultimate goal and dream is to hear them performed), and I would have indeed have recorded them myself if was able to, but unfortunately, my performance skills leave a lot to be desired, and keeping that in mind, I'm probably doing you a favor by providing MIDI realizations instead :lol:.

    Anyway, as I assume the majority of you will not want to take the time to listen to the entire 55 minute work, I've ordered the preludes into a list of my own personal recommendations, separated into fast and slow preludes for your convenience. My aim was to write the cycle in such a way that made it acceptable to be listened to as both a set of self standing pieces and also as a complete cohesive work, so if you enjoy listening to them separately, I strongly recommend you go back and take the time to listen to them as a set, from start to finish.

    Fast
    1. Prelude No. 8 in F# minor
    2. Prelude No. 17 in Ab major
    3. Prelude No. 9 in E major
    4. Prelude No. 7 in A major
    5. Prelude No. 14 in Eb minor
    6. Prelude No. 22 in G minor
    7. Prelude No. 2 in A minor
    8. Prelude No. 24 in D minor
    9. Prelude No. 4 in E minor
    10. Prelude No. 3 in G major
    11. Prelude No. 18 in F minor
    12. Prelude No. 16 in Bb minor
    13. Prelude No. 13 in F# major

    Slow
    1. Prelude No. 21 in Bb major
    2. Prelude No. 1 in C major
    3. Prelude No. 23 in F major
    4. Prelude No. 20 in C minor
    5. Prelude No. 12 in G# minor
    6. Prelude No. 10 in C# minor
    7. Prelude No. 11 in B major
    8. Prelude No. 15 in Db major
    9. Prelude No. 6 in B minor
    10. Prelude No. 5 in D major
    11. Prelude No. 19 in Eb major


    Thank you so much for taking the time to listen!
    -Steven O'Brien :D
     
  2. musical-md

    musical-md New Member

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    I listened to six (three fast and three slow) and there is much of interest and value here. I will need to view your scores before I can render a final assessment. Thanks for the very hard work, but to be really complete, you will need to follow with fugues. :mrgreen:
     
  3. StevenOBrien

    StevenOBrien New Member

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    Thanks, I'm glad you find them interesting! As this set has been written at the start of what I hope is a long career in composition for me, one silly idea I've actually had is to write a set of 24 fugues in my old age, towards the end of my career, just as an experiment to figure out what's changed in my style of writing. As for right now though, I'm not confident enough in my contrapuntal writing to even attempt something fugal yet :wink:.
     
  4. pianoman342

    pianoman342 Member Piano Society Artist

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    Hi Steven,

    I had a listen to your pieces. One piece in each key takes a while, especially to have each one sound different against the others..

    I admit when I first saw this I thought it was in the tradition of Bach's Well Tempered Clavier! Listening my take is that few if any are in the baroque style as it was. Perhaps No. 3 and one or two others. True, each piece is in a different key, but I think the similarities stop there.

    One of your pieces, the beginning of the Prelude No. 18 in F minor reminded me distinctly of the beginning of Rachmaninov's Op. 3 no. 2 Prelude in C-sharp minor, in terms of the harmony, if not the rhythm (or the key). I wonder if this piece was an influence?

    At any rate, this is quite an accomplishment, good job! If you have not taken harmony classes, I recommend you take them, as you may look at these pieces in a much different (admittedly enlightened) view. An added bonus is, it would likely help you understand imitation through several voices; the basics of fugue-writing.

    Enjoyed this set of 24,

    Riley
     
  5. StevenOBrien

    StevenOBrien New Member

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    Thanks for listening, I'm glad you enjoyed them. No, no Well Tempered Clavier here :p, if you want to look for relationships, it's probably more related to Chopin's set. I'd never heard that Rachmaninoff prelude until you showed it to me, it does sound vaguely like the F minor prelude, but no, it wasn't an influence at all.

    I've skimmed over harmony several times, but not to the point where I can harmonize chorales in my sleep :mrgreen:. I'm interested to know what new light you'd think I'd see them in?

    Thanks for your feedback,
    -Steve
     
  6. Affinity

    Affinity New Member

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    I've listened to a few of these, and though they sound familiar with a somewhat folkish touch to them, they are all pretty interesting despite being bound by form. If I had any comments to give it would be that around 2:40 of prelude 21 there seemed to be a vagrant melodic line, though that might just be the midi realization. Also, the chromatic descent of harmony near the end was simple but effective, especially after 6 minutes of calm, so props to that too. Will definitely listen to all of them one day. Congratulations on the fruit of your hard labour!
     
  7. pianoman342

    pianoman342 Member Piano Society Artist

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    Steve,

    You've never heard of Rachmaninov's C-Sharp Prelude? Oh dear! You must never have heard of Rachmaninov! All joking aside, it is seriously one of his most famous pieces. Following perhaps by the piece that Luiz Felipe just posted in the audition room: Rach's prelude in g minor. Do have a listen to some of his preludes, they really are great:

    http://pianosociety.com/cms/index.php?section=180

    With a better understanding of voice leading and chorale writing, at least this has been true in my case, you can understand form and analyze chords without doubts about the musical choices. When I was a sophomore in college I asked my composition teacher to add me to his beginning comp class. His response was: not until you take Harmony I & II! He was right. I did as he said and I think I would have really failed my comp class if I took it without the two courses in harmony fundamentals.

    Sure, look forward to your forthcoming contrapuntal works :)

    Riley
     
  8. hreichgott

    hreichgott New Member

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    Hello, recently back after a hiatus and catching up on the composition board.
    I'm partway through listening to the set. I like these preludes quite a bit and will consider making a recording if I have time, in return for your generosity in licensing them CC. Probably piecemeal, favorites first. Let me know if you have any favorites you'd particularly want recorded if a pianist only had time for a few. You did do a pretty good job with the MIDI realization, it helps get a sense of what you're after.

    I think what you do with variations on a repeated pattern is very interesting. There's a nice balance of intellectual material and emotional/dramatic effect here. The better Preludes in the set remind me of baroque passacaglias, or some of the minimalist composers that I happen to like. Do you know Ann Southam's "River" pieces? The Preludes that aren't as good come off sounding more like the New Age variety of repetition.

    So far nos. 8, 10, 12 and 15 are the ones I like best. Have you considered no. 8 a bit slower, still with a steady pulse and some attitude, like a sarabande?

    cheers
    Heather
     
  9. StevenOBrien

    StevenOBrien New Member

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    Hi Heather,
    It would be absolutely fantastic if you could record a few of them! Apart from my own wretched playing, I've never actually heard them performed before, so I'd love to hear your interpretation of them. My personal favorites are 7, 8, 10, 17 and 21, seeing as you ask.

    If you have any questions or if you'd like me to mail you a free copy of the printed score, feel free to send me an email at steven@steven-obrien.net

    It's a funny coincidence that you should bump this thread today, as I've just begun the rather laborious process of converting every single prelude from a MIDI mockup to an actual performance (I literally only just uploaded the first test performance a few minutes before you posted here). While my playing is far from great, I think having mostly real human performances will be much more enjoyable to listen to than MIDI mockups.

    If you do end up recording a few of the preludes, would you mind me perhaps featuring your recordings on my soundcloud?

    Assuming you're talking about the C9 chord I hid everywhere, I'm happy that someone finally noticed the repeated pattern throughout the set. I had not heard any of Southam's work before you mentioned her, but I'm currently enjoying some of her pieces on your recommendation.

    I do hear No. 8 as a very fast and agitated sarabande, sort of like a dance partner suddenly throwing a fit (not to attach any arbitrary meaning to the piece). It does sound nice if performed slowly, but it takes away the agitation and the anger that I hear in it. I personally would even perform it faster than the marked tempo, exaggerating the accents and dynamics to get the point across. If, however, you plan on performing/recording it and you prefer how it sounds when played slower, feel free!

    Thanks for taking the time to listen, I appreciate it!
    -Steven
     
  10. hreichgott

    hreichgott New Member

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    Great, will start with 8 and 10 since they get votes from both of us!

    I'm happy the timing works well for you. I enjoy playing new music and I like working with composers. One of my favorite performances during college was playing for a composition major's recital.

    I recently upgraded my microphone situation (used to be limited to a digital piano that plugs into the laptop, or an expensive but excellent local studio) so hopefully the recording will turn out well. I will try the Mason & Hamlin 7' grand at work, it has a nice rich sound and is in a dance studio so lots of reverb, but I don't control the tuning schedule and it does have a couple new-ish strings that go out. If we time it well it'll be just after the spring tuning.

    There's also the Yamaha C7 concert grand with professional engineers at the expensive but excellent local studio, but we'd have to find some funding :)

    Oh, and no, I was not referring to the C9 chord. (I heard lots of ninth chords but I hear pitches relative to one another, not absolute, so C9 in particular wouldn't jump out at me till I started playing the pieces.) I meant more that each piece has its own fixed idea that repeats a lot, usually with interesting variations and other lines that build on the original.
     

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