Sunday, February 17, 2019

Forgotten children

A few years a back, in what was then a new church job, I thought I'd printed out a copy of my own fugue on the hymn tune "Duke Street," a sturdy old tune I've always loved since I first heard it in Chariots of Fire. I've played this fugue many times (including quite badly this morning!) - you can hear a pedestrian performance of it by a non-virtual fake organist here - and was intending to play it that morning. But I was surprised to realize what I'd printed (simply file-named as "mm_dukestreet") was a Prelude on "Duke Street" I'd had NO memory of writing. I can't remember how I problem-solved my way out of having the wrong music that morning, because this prelude for piano is COMPLETELY different from the organ fugue in just about every way except the "subject" matter.

With "Duke Street" as our opening hymn tune today, I decided to bring back both prelude and fugue for prelude and postlude this morning, and I had the idea as I was practicing early this morning that I should record the prelude. Now what's really weird, and what I've only realized after starting this post, is that I'd forgotten I'd already written about this forgotten prelude on Facebook back in 2016, complete with a video recording that mostly just shows my right arm moving inside the white cotta I wear on Sundays.

I discovered this recording because a sense of déjà vu had come over me while listening to the recording I made this morning. I went searching back in my phone video records for past Sundays on which I've played this forgotten prelude, and found yet another Sunday when I'd recorded it as well! So I keep remembering, recording, and then forgetting this prelude until....well, maybe this is just an early document in an oncoming dementia, but I now have three recordings of this quirky prelude, all on the church's quirky little Baldwin console piano. Here's the one I made today, with the phone placed further away.

The music definitely shows some influence of Ives and Messiaen, and it's generally about as out there as my church repertoire gets. It's a progressively polytonal structure in which the tune each verse adds a new canonic voice a whole step higher, so by the end, the tune is at canon with itself in C, D, and E, though that gets obscured here and there by some murky writing. I need to go in and re-work it, but I obviously like it enough to keep trying to get it on record.

Oh, and I realized in doing more research today, that I seem to have written this prelude in May of 1999, which was one month before my first real child came into the world - so that might provide a good excuse for having forgotten this child even existed.

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