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Featuring the songs of Nick Sullivan

Demos, discussion, lyrics, sheet music

Prelude

 
 

Album:  Songs Sung Sideways

7. Prelude

Here is an instrumental piano piece that gives us a tantalizing glimpse of what might have become of Nick’s compositional career had it not been tragically struck down by ennui in the late seventies. Prelude was written in Waterloo, Ontario, and was first played on a large upright piano of ghastly green hue.

“Oh, threats of hell and hopes of paradise!
One thing at least is certain — this life flies;
One thing is certain, and the rest is lies;
The flower that once has blown forever dies.”
Omar Khayyam (1048-1131) trans. E. Fitzgerald

The Song

We were supposed to call this one Walt’s Lullaby, since he apparently goes to sleep just about instantly when it comes on, but there are already too many tunes with that name.

Nick wrote Prelude long long long ago — with a pen! — and buried it deep within his fell dwelling place, the “Edifice of Matter”. It was a time so remote that no one made a photograph of themselves being present. He recalls that the piece was written partly for fun with metre, and — if “partly” is to be trusted — for one or more additional reasons.

The Music

Nowadays, “prelude” is one of the names composers give to keyboard pieces when they can’t think what else to call them. In Bach’s day you could almost bet that a prelude on one page would be followed by a fugue on the next, but that convention dwindled as it dawned on composers that writing fugues was enormously difficult for everyone except Bach. The idea that a prelude should be followed by something took longer to shake, but after a while things got so free and easy that a prelude no longer needed to introduce anything at all. Chopin, for example, could issue a book of 24 preludes with no embarrassment or qualm, no sense of leaving the job half done. Nick’s Prelude was created in that same spirit of permissive semantic behaviour, of composition without commitment and preludes without consequences. There is no fugue in the offing.

Lyrics and Chords

Which there ain’t no lyrics, is there, it being a bleeding instrumental.

What others have said

jim's picture
jim on

Well I remember the Big Green Piano (hereafter the BGP), I can not recall where you found it or moved it to Princess St. I remember it as very heavy to get into the house and place in the living room. Being in rough shape and we did some repair before tackling tuning, but through deligent effort and perseverence the BGP became the centre of our musical acivities for a while, rocking out on Careless Love and crashing through Right Side of You etc. Great days indeed.

I'm not sure ennui moved you away from piano composition, I remember you becoming diverted by fiddle and Scot Joplin, and then the often fatal to creative work, education and teaching.

Fortunately, compostion on the violin was not as hampered and I would encourage you to marshal Tristan and an IPad video recording of Maples Street Rag, Tagish Reel, Fitzcorwin"s Lament, Trovere Hornpipe, Fitzpapper's Reel, Corwin's Jig, and any others you have as a concert set and post them to a special section on the website. Using the live off the floor warts and all method instead of attempting the level of polish the album required but going for a more home movie result should make it not take so long.

Just a thought (and it turned out to be a rather lengthly one)

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