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Twenty Four Miniature Preludes: 24 Progressive Piano Solos.

Twenty Four Miniature Preludes: 24 Progressive Piano Solos, by Johnny Todd. The Willis Music Company (P.O. Box 548, Florence, KY 41022), 2004, 36 pp. $4.95. Late-elementary to early-intermediate.

This collection contains twenty-four preludes that progress counterclockwise around the Circle of Fifths, alternating through the major and relative minor keys. The descriptive subtitles given for each piece are helpful, as they suggest the character or style in which each should be performed. The tempo markings also use descriptive words, with a specific metronome marking given for each piece. The first two pieces, for example, are "Sunbeams in C Major" ("lightly" at 88 to the quarter note) and "Little Gray Cloud in A Minor" ("seriously" at 84 to the quarter note). The composer provides clear indications for dynamics, pedaling and phrasing. Many of the preludes require a minimal use of the damper pedal, while preludes No. 7 ("The Palace Guard"), No. 10 ("Autumn Sky") and No. 16 ("The Wise One"), require extensive use of legato pedaling.

Some of the technical elements presented in these pieces are running passages, arpeggios, broken octaves, four-note chords and held notes with additional moving or repeated notes in the same hand. While these may present obstacles for some students, the most challenging component in these pieces would definitely be musicianship. Many of the pieces are composed with elements of jazz, both harmonically and stylistically. Others are sequential in nature. Several pieces need sensitive execution of timing, so the phrases give a clear image of each piece's character. The composer again has given clear indications for rubato in simple instructions, such as "holding back" or "more urgently." Johnny Todd also uses the traditional Italian terms for expression and dynamics.

Note reading can be a challenge for these pieces. Even when the key signatures are not difficult, there are many accidentals due to chromatic movements and seventh chords. The majority of the time signatures are simple meters with two exceptions: Prelude No. 23 ("Toy Blues") is in six-eight time, and Prelude No. 20 ("Donut Money") is in five-eight time. Most of the rhythms are simple. Some passages do incorporate sixteenth notes and eighth notes with dotted quarters following. The majority of these preludes are short in length, ranging from sixteen to thirty-two measures. There are three examples that exceed thirty-two measures.

While a few of these pieces would make interesting choices for performances, it may be more practical to use the book as supplemental repertoire or as teaching pieces. Reviewed by Rebekah Jones, Bogart, Georgia.
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Author:Jones, Rebekah
Publication:American Music Teacher
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Jun 1, 2005
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