First Performances
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  Book Info
Table of Contents

Scores (Sample Pages)
Characters in a Row
   Bird Meets Frog
   Lost Puppy
   Three-Legged Elephant
Sonatina No.1
   Petite Rondo
Sonatina No.2
Songs Without Words
   After the Snowstorm
Five Modal Fingers

A description of compositional and pedagogical devices within each piece is provided below to give both the teacher and student a better understanding of the music in this collection. . Minor adjustments to the text have been added for the revised edition.

CHARACTERS IN A ROW is a set of five pieces, each of which uses a different tone row and various pedagogical devices to animate the character(s) of the title. The pieces range from beginning to lower-intermediate level. Some of the compositions are easier to learn by rote.

BIRD MEETS FROG is a conversation between a bird (the right hand playing staccato seconds and a frog (the left hand playing thirds or sixths in two-note slurs). A variation of a twelve-tone row is presented every three bars of the piece. Repetition occurs within the trills, and there is also dynamic contrast between the hands. For early readers, this piece is much easier to teach by rote.

LOST PUPPY illustrates a sad, weeping puppy that stands alone looking for a familiar face. The piece is slow and soft, requiring dynamic control and multiple voice-leading. There are grace notes falling from black to white notes and multiple actions at the same time in the right hand where one note is tied while another note is struck. One set of twelve tones is repeated in the melody and chords.

SONATINA #1 is a mix of feisty folk dance rhythms found in Bartók and chromatic counterpoint derived from the Baroque period, and is in typical rondo form. It is suitable for an intermediate pianist.

ALLEGRO is rhythmically vigorous with strong peasant-like phrasings found in Hungarian folk dance. While there is no polymeter in Allegro there is a combination of up feels in one hand and down feels in the other. The left hand has a down-up pattern both on and off the beat while the right hand is sometimes synchronized with the left hand and sometimes not. It is more as if this were a partner dance. Two patterns predominate: short-short-long and long-long. The first pattern is a bouncing dance rhythm and the latter is a landing or stomping dance rhythm at the end of a phrase.

MENUET follows the AABB form of a Menuet from the Notebook of Anna Magdalena Bach. The contrapuntal lines are constructed with moment-to-moment resolutions in each hand that shift from whole-tone to chromatic scales or vice-versa. Odd intersections between hands lead to sudden shifts in tonality or modality and upper-structure tones color the sound palette to be slightly familiar but slightly odd at the same time.

PETITE RONDO is very straightforward, with consistent phrasings and rhythmic patterns. It follows rondo form where the antecedent phrase is the same interspersed with varied responses. The exact repetition of the A theme plays through the mid to upper ranges of the keyboard. This makes the piece easy to learn once the map is figured out. Early readers would learn Petite Rondo easier by rote.

SONGS WITHOUT WORDS consists of three lyrical compositions suitable for intermediate pianists.

TZIGANE contains a stable left-hand figure repeated at the beginning of each metric downbeat in 6/8. The right hand sustains long, odd phrases with various combinations of two and three groups that begin at various points in the measure and cause a cross-metrical feeling between voices. The left-hand pattern infers a G Phrygian modality but the right hand shifts modalities throughout the piece with the use of tritones and half-step/whole-step motion.

AFTER THE SNOWSTORM is a folk-like melody in F minor with a chromatic basso-continuo left hand. The left hand has moment-to-moment resolutions weaving in and out of tonalities throughout the piece emphasized by its arpeggiated figures followed by two-note slurs in either upward or downward half-step motion.

HEARTSONG has a slow-moving lyrical melody which weaves into different tonalities with its use of chromatic lines, melodic shaping and phrasing. The left-hand arpeggiated figures color the melodic palette rather than define the tonal structure. While the left-hand whole-note bass line shows a clear line, the inner voices also have many voice-leading patterns that add richness to the tonal fabric of the piece.

FIVE MODAL MELODIES is a series of short pieces, each in a different mode. They all have odd poetic-dance phrasings indicated by slurs in combination with cross-phrasings indicated by articulations. The tenutos and accented tenutos indicate a down feeling, while the accents and staccato accents indicate push-off and upward feeling.

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