Tips on Performing this Music

Diacritical markings on the Psalms indicate that rhythm played little part in Hebrew music of David’s day.  Rather, expressive accentuation of the sentence structure was foremost in the composer’s thoughts.

Not having that in mind, but coincidentally, my own music disguises and ignores rhythm in favor of expressiveness.

The middle voices are what interest me.  I keep the inner voices active and expressive.  When you perform this music, listen for these inner voices.  But indeed, sometimes the accompaniment’s business is so thorough, you need to pay attention to bringing out the original hymn tune.

Expansion of time is a big part of my music.  Many pieces have frequent fermatas and other devices for extending the duration of notes.  A horizontal line over a note means a short suspension.  A fermata means a longer hold.  Sometimes a fermata means to slow down more than one note.  Sometimes a fermata provides time to squeeze in extra notes (written small.)  In the blues music, feel free to diverge markedly from the written meter; go fast or slow as feelings flow.

The first note of a piece must almost always be held a little, and there is no marking to indicate this.

The first note of a left-hand figure, if it is surprisingly low, should be held some.

The penultimate melodic note of any measure is often held very slightly, particularly when the final note of the measure is a pickup to the next measure.

I composed these pieces at a piano with soft hammers.  Sometimes the harmony seems a little jarring played on another piano or on an organ.  In performing them, I edit as I go, leaving out a few notes that I don’t want to hear on the particular instrument.  On organ, I often hear notes that need to be carried over longer than written.  And on organ, little ornaments might sound silly, so I leave them out.  Or, as the mood strikes me, I may add ornaments.  Please feel free to experiment and personalize the music.
C A Peter Stearns