Malinowski, Prelude (1975)




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Published on May 12, 2012

Prelude, by Stephen Malinowski, performed and visualized by the composer

Q: Where can I get the sheet music for this piece?
A: Here is the prelude and the corresponding fugue:

Q: What instrument is that?
A: It's the guitar sound that comes with the Sibelius notation software; I'm playing it from a MIDI keyboard.

Q: Who is that in the photograph?
A: The composer (me) and Patricia Anne Carbon (for whom the piece was written). The picture was taken at the Ranch House Restaurant in Ojai, California. The photo was taken to advertise a concert we played in Santa Barbara.

Q: Can you tell me more about the piece?
A: During the summer of 1975, my friend Peter Harsch was traveling and needed a place to store his harpsichord. I was living with my parents at the time, and offered to keep it in my bedroom. As I composed this piece, I tried it out on both harpsichord and piano, so it can be played effectively on either instrument. The instrument I'm playing it on in this recording has aspects of both: the pluck of the harpsichord with the dynamic range of the piano.
It's also been transcribed for string orchestra and for brass choir (by me) and for string quartet (not by me).
In this piece, I was trying to write a kind of "minimal" music. It doesn't have any repeating melodies and, except at the end, it always moves in eighth notes and avoids full cadences. The main organizing principle is the "resting points" of the bass line, which starts on C (the lowest note of the harpsichord I was using), and then proceeds up, resting on D, E, F, and A (skipping G, so that it can return to it for the final cadence), and then G and up to C. Except for the A, every time the bass line get to a new resting point, it never goes lower than that; this is shown in this video with the "window-shade" effect.


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