grand piano

Behind The Shadow

Composer's Notes by By Steffen Presley

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Originally composed with lyrics in 1982, this composition is the only one which uses a degree of traditional (song) structure. Some of my unique analog synth timbres of that period were recreated for this new instrumental version because they still sound fresh alongside my new digital and orchestral timbres.

     (composition for solo piano)

The inspiration and title for this creation came from a poem written about me by one of my best friends. Composed during a one week period in April 1970, the only compositional tool I used was the piano itself. This was a time before even cassette tape recorders became available. The version demonstrated here was performed on a Steinway B grand piano and recorded at Crystal Sound studio in Hollywood 1974.

led  Transcendence

Composed in 1995 this "intermission" piece was deliberately designed as a buffer between the two solo piano compositions on this album. Although its flavor is a combination of classical and New Age type stylings, its form is unrelated to either. Layers of tracks were routed through a Leslie speaker and added to create the right "atmosphere".

led   Manifestation
     (composition for solo piano in three movements)

Composed over a three month period in 1971, this three part composition is meant to be an epic adventure of growth, triumph and tragedy, a pianistic tour de force. During the time I was creating this piece, I was sleeping in my car or on peoples floors when possible. I had no access to an instrument and would always be searching for a piano to practice and compose on. This included numerous churches and pizza parlors whereupon I was routinely forcefully ejected. Unusual modern performance techniques are occasionally used, including clusters, random passages and playing directly on the strings. There is a section where after most of the piano strings are sounding (from a cluster followed by a glissando with damper pedal down), as the damper pedal is very gradually released, a chord is played and held with such slow velocity that the hammers don't strike the strings at all. Thus, as the damper pedal finally closes, all notes cease to ring except for the chord which appears to emerge from the cluster. I performed this opus in public only once at The University of California at Stanislaus in1972 for an astoundingly receptive music festival audience. Unfortunately, this being so long ago, no decent recordings of this piece exist. The link on this page calls up a PDF document of the complete sheet music.

This is the showcase composition for this album. Realized over a six month period in late 1995, this piece was originally conceived to be performed by piano, a complete philharmonic orchestra and synthesizer (hey, we all have dreams don't we?) Although realized mostly by synths (with nearly fifty tracks) , I did perform the clarinet and alto saxophone parts. Unusual for me, uniquely electronic timbres are only rarely used in this piece.

Speaking of dreams...This song also was originally written with lyrics. The "vocal" melodies were all expressively performed using evocative cutting edge sounds from the amazing Yamaha VL1-m physical modeling synthesizer. Unusual sampling techniques from "king" Kurzweil (K2500) are pervasive in the "twilight-dream" finale. Thanks for listening. To all a good night.

© 1997 Endless Productions

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