basics (under construction)
This platform provides insight into the basic skills of the Art of Preluding.
Many historical preludes can be divided into three sections: an opening section, middle section and closing section.
1. OPENING SECTION
Since harmonization is the groundwork of historical preluding, the basic triads will be the first elements to learn.
Major and minor triads can be practiced all over the keyboard as shown in the following example. It is recommended to learn the corresponding chord symbols as well and to become familiar with the differences between major and minor triads.
The following example shows two versions of a triad spread out over the whole keyboard.
If the hands easily span an octave range, this version could be more suitable.
A full overview of all triads and the corresponding symbols can be found here.
Each triad has a root postion and two inversions, which can be practiced as well.
The number of chords to be learned varies according to the learning speed. But as soon as one is familiar with a number of chords and the and their symbols, small experiments can be performed in a playful way and with limitless possibilities. For example, chords can be alternated while crossing the hands, and various parameters such as dynamics can be used in creating short improvisations.
The improvisations can be performed within or out of the context of the 18th- or 19th-century music, it's just exploring the chords in a personal way, so it could be a contemporary approach as well.
2. MIDDLE SECTION
EXPLORING TRIADS ON HARMONIC PROGRESSIONS
In a next step a harmonic progression is used to explore the triads. There are endless possibilities for useful harmonic progressions, the following is just a single example on how to start exploring.
More common triad chord progressions can be found here.
A scale can be harmonized as well, and according to many musicians throughout the 18th and 19th century this scale harmonization or 'octave rule' was used as a guidemap.
The following example is an 18th-century version in major and minor key. This harmonic progression was not entirely used in the exact order, but rather in fragments. It is therefore an ideal exercise to look for different combinations while playing.
the numbers below the chords indicate the current 'basso continuo' notation. Once this exercise is memorized it can be transposed to other keys.
Simultaneously with this exercise, an introduction to the musical functions such as tonic chord, dominant chord and subdominant chord, could be interesting.
Since alternating between chords could require some knowledge of chord connection, another technique could be used: shifting notes while repeating an arpeggio. In fact, it's alternating chord technique as well, but it is obtained by systematically shifting notes form the previous chord. This technique creates a sense of awareness for vocal lines within chords, and can be a way of integrating melodic elements. It can be used as a style transcending technique as well, outside a certain tonality.
3. CLOSING SECTION
4. ADDING SCALES, SCALE FIGURES AND EMBELLISHMENT NOTES
EXPLORING KEYS & SCALES
The most important element in preluding is the exploration of harmonies, but in a next step it is necessary to include scales and, at a later stage, also embellishments. Since preluding is a discipline that includes training in all keys, a general introduction to all tonal fields is necessary. The circle of fifths is a good 'roadmap', the following guideline is very practical and can be learned quickly at the keyboard.
By exploring different keys, the chord progressions from exercise 1 and exercise 2 can be transposed.
The right hand memorizes the major keys with sharps:
The left hand memorizes the major keys with flats:
A similar approach for minor keys:
An overview af all the scales can be found here.
SCALE FIGURES and EMBELLISHMENTS
5. COMBINING THE PREVIOUS EXERCISES WITHIN A PRELUDE
The combination of the elements of the previous exercises will probably the most difficult step.
This sketch in C major and A minor can be used to keep an overview of the various elements in different examples.
August Friedrich Christoph Kollmann (1756-1829) provides many useful examples in his publication An Introduction to the Art of Preluding and Extemporizing (1792).
For didactic reasons, a select number of composers such as Wieck, Cramer, Concone, Clara Schumann, Clementi and Barbot have published preludes for beginners. These examples give us insights into the learning process of preluding.
Since this website is work in progress, more examples and explanations will be posted soon.