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Drei Satanische Skizzen ("Three Satanic Sketches") for piano solo

By Joseph Dillon Ford

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Piano Solo - Advanced Intermediate - Digital Download
Composed by Joseph Dillon Ford. 21st Century, Contemporary Classical, Impressionistic, Neo-Classical. Score. 6 pages. Published by David Warin Solomons (S0.436093).

Item Number: S0.436093

Three short sketches depicting the Evil One in various guises.
These experimental pieces authored by a primarily tonal composer collectively support another of Ford's aesthetic theories: by giving atonal music an appropriate context—in this case by providing suggestive titles and epigrams—and by introducing readily apparent repetitive structures analogous to the words and phrases of spoken language and comparable semantic elements in tonal musical scores, it is possible to enhance both the comprehensibility and enjoyment of non-tonal musical idioms.
Drei Satanische Skizzen (Three Satanic Sketches) were composed during the week of 21 August 2005 in rapid succession and dedicated to Arnold Schoenberg, who had recently been the subject of considerable discussion among members of the Delian Society. Ford, a strong advocate of tonal music, believed that music similar in character and quality to the atonal piano pieces of Schoenberg's Opus 19 could be successfully improvised, and the Satanischen Skizze were intended to support his position. Although he originally intended to name the pieces "Morgenlied," "Mittaglied," and "Abendlied," as he was editing them he discovered their diabolical subtext, which evidently resulted from his having read earlier that same year several literary classics in which Satan figures prominently: Marlowe's Doctor Faustus, Milton's Paradise Lost, and Goethe's Faust. (Ford also acknowledges the influence of Thomas Mann's Doktor Faustus, whose central character is a composer of atonal music.)

1 "Teufelei" ("Devilry") [4/4, atonal, D+]
"Teufelei," the second piece in order of creation (first titled "Mittaglied"), is an almost literal recreation of Ford's MIDI improvisation, and is far and away the most difficult piece in the set. A completely atonal score, it requires extraordinary technical facility, extreme dynamic control, and subtly imaginative interpretative skill to convey a variety of contrasting moods in a very short space of time.

2 "Die Schlange" ("The Serpent") [6/4:12/8, dodecaphonic, D]
"Die Schlange," first envisioned as an "Abendlied" (cf. Chopin's "Berceuse" and Nocturnes), features an ostinato bass—actually a twelve-tone row—whose repetition evokes the writhing coils of the Evil One in the guise of a serpent. The right-hand part is based entirely on another closely related twelve-tone row that is variously subjected to inversion, retrograde, and retrograde inversion, suggesting all manner of fiendish guile and artifice.

3 "Peccatum Originale" ("Original Sin") [4/4, tonally ambiguous (close to F minor); M]
"Peccatum Originale" (originally "Morgenlied") was the first piece to be completed, and is also a virtually literal transcription of an improvisation Ford recorded through MIDI and exported to Finale for typesetting. Although the piece sounds atonal, close analysis reveals a strong tendency towards the key of F Minor. It evokes not so much the image of Satan as it does his influence on Eve as she reaches for and eats of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, an act of disobedience that leads directly to profound feelings of shame and dejection.

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