12 River Preludes

The Twelve River Preludes, written in 2011, were to some extent intended as an antidote to the tumultuous heavy-weight virtuoso display of the 12 Landscape Studies. They are short, generally slow and peaceful in tone, and technically undemanding to play. As a set, this is my first complete work to be based entirely on the six-note all-interval fractal sets that I discovered and began to develop in 2009. The preludes follow in the tradition of Bach and Chopin. Like many of the preludes in Bach’s “48 Preludes and Fugues”, each short piece is an exploration of a particular texture or pattern in sound, transformed and reworked through a series of harmonic progressions. The main structural points of these fractal forms is usually marked by a pause or slight ralentando.

All the titles were taken from rivers and brooks in the region of Bath, Bristol and the Somerset Levels. There are perhaps two contrasting generic ways that a composer might consider portraying a river in music. Smetana depicted the entire course of the River Vltava from source to sea. My River Preludes are more about sitting on the bank and falling into a reverie as the river flows past. The music is not necessarily descriptive of these water-courses in an impressionistic sense, but the fractal processes on which they are based tend to create organic open-ended riverine forms. 

The preludes were first performed in sets of six in two concerts at Bristol Music Club:

16 November 2012:

Prelude 1 – River Axe
Prelude 2 – River Brue
Prelude 3 – Cam Brook
Prelude 4 – River Frome
Prelude 5 – Huntspill River
Prelude 6 – Midford Brook

22 February 2013:

Prelude 7 – Newton Brook
Prelude 8 – River Parrett
Prelude 9 – River Chew
Prelude 10 – River Tone
Prelude 11 – Wellow Brook
Prelude 12 – River Yeo

Complete set of sheet music available as a 28-page A4 book direct from the composer: Price £10 (plus £2 p&p)