Music to Play: Douglas Seth’s Lively ‘Prelude for the Victorious’ Borrows from Bach

FROM THE FALL 2019 ISSUE OF CLASSICAL GUITAR

Delaware (USA)-based guitarist, arranger, composer, and teacher Douglas Seth has performed internationally. His guitar works have been published through Mel Bay Publications and his arrangements featured in professional off-Broadway productions. In 2017, he released New Music for Solo Guitar, a classical-guitar recording premiering his original compositions, and also published Progressive Character Pieces for the Beginner Classical Guitarist, Vol. 1, a collection of original student pieces. He is also a member of the cross-genre ensemble Mosaic String Duo with Chris  Braddock.

Seth earned music degrees from the State University of New York at Fredonia and Austin Peay State University in Tennessee. He also studied at El Instituto Universitario de Estudios Musicales in Venezuela. Before moving to Delaware, he directed the guitar program at Manatee School for the Arts in Palmetto, Florida, and he currently teaches at the Guitar Academy of Southern Delaware, which he founded in 2010.

He describes this issue’s Music to Play piece and offers a few tips:

Prelude for the Victorious is a pastiche of J. S. Bach’s unaccompanied string music. It is part of a set Preludes composed as homages to some of my favorite composers. This prelude is mostly a complex single line, complete with implied polyphony, pedal points, and ornaments. This piece could be used as a study for navigating and playing a complex single line musically. Like Bach’s unaccompanied string music, special attention should be given to melodic leaps. A slight accent of the melodic leaps will accentuate the implied polyphony in the single line. The player should feel free to experiment technically. Although the rapid mordents are played with a m i fingering, they can be simplified by slurring them instead. The long final trill is played using a cross-string a m i p or Rak tremolo fingering; it can be simplified by slurring the trill with the left hand.

“I feel the Prelude sits squarely in the intermediate-to-upper-intermediate level, with a few advanced Baroque-style ornaments. Of course, these ornaments can be adjusted to suit the player, but with a little extra effort, they are very playable. Theoretically, playing a single line like in this Prelude should be quite easy. However, due to the nature of the guitar, it can be challenging, because if there are no droning open strings (like in so much of the repertoire), there is no extra resonance to obscure one’s mistakes. Most importantly, though, have fun!” deguitaracademy.com