Five Pentatonic Preludes

Solo Piano (1999)

Premiere performance by Geoffrey Burleson on for February 14, 2001 at Slosberg Recital Hall, Brandeis University. Commercial recording on Brian Banks: Sonatas and Preludes, Centaur Records CRC2893, 2007. Geoffrey Burleson, piano.

Score Sample

Duration: c. 7 1/2 minutes

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BRB Preludes CD Jacket copyDuring the time I have lived and worked in Mexico I periodically set myself the challenge of distilling some of the elements that are present in my earlier works–in part to see the variety of contexts to which a technique can be applied, in part as a way of making “studies” for larger-scale pieces. Although generally my music employs a very wide range of processes, one element that almost always pops up is the pentatonic collection. The Five Pentatonic Preludes are a result of that distillation process, and also served as the immediate precursor to my Piano Sonata No. 1.

In these preludes some of the scales I use are anhemitonic, while others take advantage of a semitone or two. The second and fourth preludes aren’t completely pure: in the second I devised a means of “modulation” using an inversion of the original scale, and at the end-accented climax the two scales are played simultaneously. The fourth, based on a familiar hymn tune, was so pure that I couldn’t resist dirtying things up a bit with an arpeggio of perfect fourths as a coda to the coda.

That being said, I hope that the preludes are far from being a mere codification of patterns.  The biggest challenge was to write something fun to perform and  worthwhile to hear.