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I set out to write a short, pleasant, uncomplicated piano piece during the Christmas of ‘95 holiday break
and admittedly have ended up with a longer but hopefully, still pleasant and uncomplicated piece. Once Down South (Piano Sonata #2) is a kind of theme and variation sonata based on an old spiritual I
remember hearing as a very young child. We were making a car trip down south to Florida on a
family vacation. Somewhere along the way the car radio went on and I can recall listening, rather uninvolved,
to a mixed chorus singing a spiritual. I don’t remember the whole tune but certain fragments of
the tune always remained vivid in my memory.
Not wishing to avail myself of the resources to research the spiritual tune I decided to rework the fragments I
remembered so as to compose my own short spiritual and use it as the theme for a new piano piece. The
variations that follow my recomposed spiritual are not true variations in that they do not vary the entire theme as
is the traditional, classic technique of theme and variations. Just as my memory of the original spiritual is fragmented
the variations I have composed are also only able to “remember” particular characteristic motifs or fragments of the
theme. It is these little bits and pieces that are then developed and/or transformed throughout the course of the
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