Bingham Berceuse

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    In Bingham’s Berceuse, which is a listed piece for the AHS Summer Institute, there is a direction that all chords should be broken unless otherwise noted. Yet, at bar 51, there is a 4-bar section with the first bar’s chords played unbroken. It seems to imply that all the chords in these 4 bars should be similarly played, but there is no “simile” marked. As a composer myself, I know that things like this can slip under the radar. Are the chords in bars 52-54 to be played broken or unbroken?


    Having unfortunately purchased this piece, I would say, don’t play it at all. It doesn’t even meet the basic requirements of a composition, a sense of line, a real theme, good form. I don’t know how it got chosen. While all new music should theoretically get played, “tonal” music can be just as bad as “avant-garde.” But, I guess you’re stuck with it. You are free to choose, but he would seem to have implied only the first chord should be flat, but I would assume it continues if the chords are similar. I always err for consistency within a phrase.


    In those measures I play the first chord unbroken and then open up the roll gradually on the subsequent chords.


    I decided that the best course of action was to write the AHS and find out what they expect to hear at the competition. Dorothy Remsen reported that the competition chair, JoAnn Turovsky, says that bars 52-54 are indeed to be played “simile”, that is, non arpeggiato (straight). Thank you for the responses!


    The Bingham Berceuse was written for and premiered by me and in the phrase in question I only played the first two chords unbroken gradually opening the roll through the phrase, as the composer directed.

    I would also like to point out that the A section should be thought of as a chorale. In other words, don’t sacrifice the lushness of the chords to bring out the upper voice.

    When Dr. Bingham writes “tenuto” or “molto rallentando” he really means it…hold those notes as long as you can stand it.

    I’d be happy to answer any other questions about this piece, which means a great deal to me.


    This is why I value this harp forum so much! Thank you!

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