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The Time Curve Preludes

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Album Review

The Time Curve Preludes has long been cited as one of the first examples of post-minimalist piano music and it's easy to hear why. While certain repetitive elements are present in a fashion that hadn't existed before the work of Reich, Glass, and others, there are also overt influences from other composers and genres that are taboo in the strict minimalist canon. Notable among these would be the music of Erik Satie heard in the melancholy sweetness and plangent beauty of a number of the sections herein. But one also picks up hints of medieval music, American folk forms, and gospel, among others. There are certain similarities to the work of British composer Howard Skempton in the subtle knottiness of apparently simple melodies, and one even thinks of the piano improvisations of Keith Jarrett, though far more restrained and sans pathos. The preludes vary in mood and pace but are almost all poignantly attractive, even lush, and are lovingly played by Neely Bruce. If there's any quality lacking, it might be that of an authoritative personal stamp, a "Duckworth-ness" that would distinguish his voice from others who increasingly plowed these furrows in ensuing years. But that self-effacing stance may have been one of his goals and shouldn't keep the listener from enjoying a volume of highly accessible, seductively enticing contemporary piano music.

Customer Reviews

Music from the man who taught me to love minimalism

Composer William Duckworth has been a professor at Bucknell University since 1973. He taught me music theory for a year in the early 1980s. At first, minimalism seemed like a game, especially when we performed Steve Reich's "Clapping Music" in class. But Professor Duckworth integrated minimalism so well into our education that I am now drawn to the work of composers such as John Adams and Philip Glass, who came out of this musical school of thought. (My iPhone ringtone is a snippet from Adams' "Nixon in China.") I heard Neely Bruce perform this work at Bucknell, and I am very pleased to add Professor Duckworth's music to my iTunes library.


Born: January 13, 1943 in Morgantown, NC

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Composer William Duckworth, who had composed over 100 works by the late 1990s, was often regarded as the founder of post-minimalism because of works like his Southern Harmony and Time Curve Preludes. For his education, Duckworth attended the University of Illinois, where he studied with Ben Johnston, and went on to teach at Bucknell. In 1997, Duckworth put an interactive piece, Cathedral, on the Web, scheduled to culminate, years later, in a live, online...
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The Time Curve Preludes, William Duckworth
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