Power Ballade

for piano and electronics


for Marianne Parker // premiered March, 2021; Chicago, IL

Duration: 8 minutes

Instrumentation: piano and electronics

Program Note

Power Ballade (2020) is a dual homage to Frederic Chopin’s four Ballades and a compilation CD released in the mid-90s called “Monster Ballads,” whose infomercial reminded viewers that “every bad boy has a soft side.” In other words, the piece blends the restrained energy of the power ballad and the dramatic, dance-like character of Chopin’s Ballades. With the aid of a pre-recorded electronic cues triggered by the pianist throughout the performance, Power Ballade creates a kind of hyper-piano, an impossible physical instrument composed of all manner of prepared and altered pianos, from dampened strings to bizarre physical modelings and tunings. In fact, most of the electronic sounds heard in this piece are derived from an acoustic piano, and if you listen closely, you may even catch the refracted strains of Chopin’s first Ballade in G minor. Like those of Chopin, this Ballade fluctuates between tempos and moods, all tied together by a propulsive sense of groove. Power Ballade was commissioned by Marianne Parker with financial support from the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events.