Piano Inspires Kids Excerpt: Listening Guide for the 12 American Preludes by Ginastera

The Co-Editors-in-Chief of Piano Inspires Kids, Andrea McAlister and Sara Ernst, recently answered some questions about the new magazine for young pianists. Find out more about the magazine below and go to kids.pianoinspires.com to join our community of inspired music makers!

The Autumn issue of Piano Inspires Kids explores Argentina; the dances, composers, and performers that have contributed to a rich musical heritage. Alberto Ginastera is one of the composers highlighted in the magazine. Readers will not only learn about Ginastera and his compositional style, they can also listen to 12 American Preludes performed by Alejandro Cremaschi and follow along with the provided listening guide, which we are pleased to share below. Subscribe at kids.pianoinspires.com/subscribe to read more about Ginastera, see practice tips from students in Argentina, and access more listening guides!

Listening Guide

Each of these twelve short preludes is like an etude, a piece that focuses on a specific musical or technical challenge. Arpeggios, octaves, and quick hand movements are found throughout Ginastera’s preludes.

No. 1, “Triste” (Sadness) is in the style of Argentine folk song.

No. 2, “Para los acentos” and No. 3, “Danza criolla” feature hemiola, a shift in rhythms from two groups of three to three groups of two, or vice versa.

No. 4, “Vidala” is a slow and reflective song that uses modal scales (scales with a unique arrangement of whole and half steps).

No. 5 “En el primer modo pentáfono menor” (In the First Pentatonic Minor Mode). Listen for the pentatonic (five note) scale and the canon. A canon occurs when one hand performs a melody and the other hand enters later with the same melody.

No. 6 honors Argentine composer Roberto García Morillo with a dramatic piece of octaves and arpeggios.

Pianist Alejandro Cremaschi performs Alberto Ginastera’s Doce Preludios Americanos, Op. 12.
Ginastera with his cat.

No. 7, “Para las octavas” (Octaves) is one of the most difficult preludes because of the leaps and octaves, both at a very fast tempo.

No. 8 is a nostalgic tango and a tribute to Argentine composer and conductor Juan José Castro.

No. 9 is a jazzy piece paying homage to his friend Aaron Copland, a famous American composer.

No. 10, “Pastoral” (Pastorale). Can you hear the layers? 1) A right-hand melody, 2) a left-hand bass line, and 3) a repeating accompaniment in the middle, shared between the hands.

No. 11 is a tribute to Brazillian composer Heitor Villa-Lobos. Listen to the bass chords for syncopation, a shift of rhythmic accent from a strong beat to a weak beat.

No. 12, “En el 1er modo pentáfono mayor” (In the First Pentatonic Major Mode). Ginastera described this as “a slow Inca processional march…connected with the worship of the sun.” The Inca were a group of South American native people living in the Andes mountains.

Interested in learning more about Piano Inspires Kids? Watch this webinar with the Co-Editors-in-Chief Andrea McAlister and Sara Ernst: https://pianoinspires.com/webinar/10-11-23-webinar/. You can also learn more and subscribe here: https://kids.pianoinspires.com/.


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