basics (under construction)

This platform provides insight into the basic skills of the Art of Preluding.

The following exercises should be practiced regularly over a longer period of time to master the basics. They can be performed in many ways. The sequence is not necessary, and although it somehow increases stepwise in difficulty, an exercise does not necessarily have to be completed to move on to the next one. It is even recommended, as soon as the level of piano playing allows it, to go through all the exercises within the same practice session or class. In that case, each exercise will serve the creation of a prelude in a particular key.

Exercises 1 and 2 can be used during the first years of piano education, possibly combined with the exercises on the platform imaginations. Exercises 3, 4, 5 and 6 can be used at a more advanced level, followed by the use of the platforms harmonizations and explorations.


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. 

basics 3klanken.png

If the hands easily span an octave range, this version could be more suitable.

basics 3klanken 8vers.png

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.

basics 3klanken inv.png

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. 


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.

shifting notes or polyphonic approach

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.

basics 3klanken shift.png

More exercises for starters will be developed soon.


​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:

keys #

The left hand memorizes the major keys with flats:

keys b

A similar approach for minor keys:

keys minor b
keys minor #

An overview af all the scales can be found here.​


(published soon)


A scale can be harmonized as well, and according to many musicians troughout the 18th and 19th century this scale harmonization or 'octave rule' was used as a guidemap. If this exercise is too difficult, one can go to exercise 6 first.

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.

Schermafbeelding 2021-04-11 om 18.00.09.

Simultaneously with this exercise, an introduction to the musical functions such as tonic chord, dominant chord and subdominant chord, could be interesting.


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.