The Well-Blended Primer, Book I

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Composed in the Fall of 2011, The Well-Blended Primer is a set of 24 pieces for piano inspired by the idea of writing a a piece in each major and minor key. Although much of my music hasn't been written with key signatures, I do associate keys with colors, and the title alludes to blended paint colors, which often have very specific titles, for example "desert sage," and the fact that the collection could be considered a "primer" for the pianist (with the intended pun regarding "primer coat" tying things together). There is also an allusion to J. S. Bach's Well-Tempered Clavier, a two-volume collection of preludes and fugues written in every major and minor key. Other composers have approached writing a collecton of pieces in all of the musical keys in various ways as well. Chopin, Hindemith and Shostakovich come to mind, and all were influences. There are some pieces in this collection that are more contrapuntal, and they might be considered fugues. Other pieces are more along the line of Romantic character pieces with whimsical titles. In some cases, the titles hint at allusions to other piano composers (for example George Sand's Dream).

There is a piece in each of the major and minor keys, but the tonal relationships and use of harmonic language ranges from fairly straight forward to modal and sometimes highly chromatic. The key relationships are adventuresome more often than not. This is Book I of a planned two-book collection. In this book, there is either a "prelude-like" piece or a "more fugal" piece in each key, but not both. In the second book, if the C major piece is more fugue-like in Book I, it will be more "prelude-like" in Book II. So, the second volume will be a complement to the first, and will complete a cycle so that there will be a "prelude" and a "fugue" in each key. Admittedly, some of these pieces are probably neither of the above, but the collection does include degrees of contrapuntal intricacy. For example, several pieces weave in Bach's "name" in musical notes (in one of its two forms). The collection is dedicated to my father, a fine pianist, who I hope will enjoy playing these pieces.

© John Carbon 2015