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Topic: The Art of the Prelude

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  1. #1

    The Art of the Prelude

    As many of you know, I play organ at my church and I'm running out of ideas for preludes. I don't like to play hymns because I just end up repeating them over and over and it's really boring. I'm not nearly good enough of an organist to play Bach's preludes yet, so I just thought I'd write my own...but how?

    Lucky for me I'm a member of the coolest music comunity on the web!!!

    So how do preludes work? How would I write them?

    Thanks,
    -Chris

  2. #2

    Re: The Art of the Prelude

    I'm not sure if they have a specific form, like a sonata. I think they are generally used to introduce larger pieces, like a suite, and establish things like the key. See how little I know?
    Sean Patrick Hannifin
    My MP3s | My Melody Generator | my album
    "serious music" ... as if the rest of us are just kidding

  3. #3

    Re: The Art of the Prelude

    Chris,
    I'm not sure there is an established "form" but the ideas at the following link might be expanded to provide something useful=>

    http://www.duke.edu/web/mus065/prelude.htm

    Also, do a serach for general info at Wikipedia=>
    http://en.wikipedia.org


    good luck (and let us hear what you come up with),
    Jim

    Jim Jarnagin - no not THAT Jim Jarnagin, the other one.

  4. #4

    Smile Re: The Art of the Prelude

    Quote Originally Posted by cptexas
    As many of you know, I play organ at my church and I'm running out of ideas for preludes. I don't like to play hymns because I just end up repeating them over and over and it's really boring. I'm not nearly good enough of an organist to play Bach's preludes yet, so I just thought I'd write my own...but how?

    Lucky for me I'm a member of the coolest music comunity on the web!!!

    So how do preludes work? How would I write them?

    Thanks,
    -Chris
    Hi cptexas, the prelude form itself is one of the "free" form (also toccata, fantasia to name couple). But what you seem to be asking question about is the choral prelude. Choral prelude is no different than the "normal" prelude, except that the material used to construct it is most often originated from the choral. For example, you could start with the first phrase of the hymn in fughetto and then come in with the cantus firmus while the other voices are in quite free counterpoint. Or you could do a canon, you start with the first phrase in 1st voice, the 2nd voice responds exactly the same (can start in other interval). The 3rd voice could be free counterpoint, or even be the cantus firmus later in more slow pace.
    You could also have the cantus firmus ornamented in solo voice, and alto and tenor free counterpoint (or in canon, if you can ). The bass could simply do note on every important harmony change etc.

    The possibilities are unlimited!

    Good luck!
    Sincerely,
    Falcon1


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  5. #5

    Re: The Art of the Prelude

    I didn't really mean any specific kind of prelude. More of just nice music for people walking into church. Right now I just improv pretty-sounding chords with a nice sweet sound on the organ with some pretty passing tones. Sometimes I just listen to random Bach works (not necesairly preludes) and improv on a particular theme I like. Just sometimes I choke up and I have no idea where these harmonies and chords are going and I need to get back to the tonic because the pastor is ready to begin.

    That's why I'd like to write my own preludes, offertories, etc. Plus, I can custom tailor them to the particular organ I use. It's a hammond with a GREAT Leslie speaker and even a set of chimes! VERY cool!!! The range of sound with that organ is amazing and I'd like to take advantage of it, although I can't make my own presets. Even doing as little as adjusting a single drawbar makes all the difference! It's GREAT!!!!

    So that's what I had in mind.

    Also, I was thinking for a good offertory I could improv on Green Onions (y'all know that one? It's the most awesome progression EVER!!). That'd sound great on the hammond, but I don't know about that because most of the members are all above 60.

    -Chris

    EDIT: if any of y'all write for organ and happen to have some easy preludes that you wrote that you're willing to share with me, please email me! chris.prestia@gmail.com

  6. #6

    Smile Re: The Art of the Prelude

    Quote Originally Posted by cptexas
    I didn't really mean any specific kind of prelude. More of just nice music for people walking into church. Right now I just improv pretty-sounding chords with a nice sweet sound on the organ with some pretty passing tones. Sometimes I just listen to random Bach works (not necesairly preludes) and improv on a particular theme I like. Just sometimes I choke up and I have no idea where these harmonies and chords are going and I need to get back to the tonic because the pastor is ready to begin.

    That's why I'd like to write my own preludes, offertories, etc. Plus, I can custom tailor them to the particular organ I use. It's a hammond with a GREAT Leslie speaker and even a set of chimes! VERY cool!!! The range of sound with that organ is amazing and I'd like to take advantage of it, although I can't make my own presets. Even doing as little as adjusting a single drawbar makes all the difference! It's GREAT!!!!

    So that's what I had in mind.

    Also, I was thinking for a good offertory I could improv on Green Onions (y'all know that one? It's the most awesome progression EVER!!). That'd sound great on the hammond, but I don't know about that because most of the members are all above 60.

    -Chris

    EDIT: if any of y'all write for organ and happen to have some easy preludes that you wrote that you're willing to share with me, please email me! chris.prestia@gmail.com
    You already describe the right beginning of the "preludiare" art: the latin word "preludium" means "play before".

    To improv. on a chord progression or a ground (the tipical diatonic ground, like C, B, A, G, F, E, D, G, C; the chromatic ground like C, B, Bb, A, Ab, G, C; the Pachelbel ground C, G,A, E, F, C, F, G, C; the guitar progression C, A, D, G and so on...) like Green Onion may be the start up.

    The two main basic style may be used:
    - a melody played by RH, while LH play only the bass line (the ground)
    It is a good exercise to find the fine and elegant melody conduction.

    - chords connected as a choral hymn (es chords in RH, bass line in LH)
    It's a good exercise to find the right harmonic sequence and tonal or modal logic.

    The last step is to mix both style to create a more various or episodic flow of the music. Being able to improv in this way, you will start to like some phrase you found improvisating, and you may start writing it to refine it and remember, re-use it when necessary.
    Starting from your own improvisation, what you write will be compatible with your technic and fingering.

    A very interesting exercise is:
    - if you find a nice tune in major key (happy) try to play it in minor key (sad) and viceversa. Some little prelude you will compose, will be possible in both minor or major keys, according to your mood or need.

    The last step is to create little imitations (starting from simple 2 or 3 voices short canon or counterpoint) to include as episodes in your preludes (as the beginning, the core or the end, according to the style and nature of your composition).

    I wrote 3 very short and easy prelude to play during the mass, when I was a young church organist, with a very low keyboard technic: if I'll be able to find it, I'll send it to you.

    Let me know if our suggestions help, and let us have your first composition, or a midi recording of your improv. if you can.

    Good luck, have fun, never stop.


  7. #7
    Senior Member squoze's Avatar
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    Re: The Art of the Prelude

    Quote Originally Posted by cptexas
    if any of y'all write for organ and happen to have some easy preludes that you wrote that you're willing to share with me
    Venus-Bringer of Peace Organ/Piano
    I did a Organ/Piano duet that might give you an idea or two. I worked from Holst's Piano duo of "Venus-Bringer of Peace" and cut it down to around 3:00. I haven't got the nerve yet to show it to our music director--I'm not sure its "reverent" enough, even if it were "good" enough. But it makes me happy.
    PS-I didn't spend much time on the GPO realization. And I do know that "The Planets" were based on Astrology, so...

  8. #8

    Re: The Art of the Prelude

    Thanks Fabio!
    That's very helpful!

    I'll try it!
    -Chris

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