Week 75: “Chopin Prelude” by Jim Perkins


One of the best things about the internet is its ability to help you find things you didn’t know you were looking for.

I was thinking that it was about time I added something by Chopin to this list. I figured his famous Prelude in E minor was suitably beautiful, but I didn’t own a recording of it. So off I went to the internet to find a good recording somewhere.  But, as so often happens on the internet, one tangent led to another, and before I knew what had happened, I had forgotten about Frederic Chopin, and was instead reading about someone named Jim Perkins.

Perkins is a British composer who, like many modern musicians, combines classical training with modern technology, bridging the gap between Amadeus and algorithms. His music is fairly experimental, and at times can be a bit glitchy and choppy; if that’s not your thing, it can get difficult to listen to after a while. But in this particular song, I find the choppiness (and the Chopin-ness) to be hypnotic.

What makes this a beautiful song:

1. The use of stereo. If you can, you should listen to this song on headphones. Recognizable fragments of the original piece pop up here and there, panning from left to right, jumping octaves…it’s like someone took Chopin’s sheet music and made confetti out of it.

2. The not-quite percussion. At 1:30 there’s the faintest hint of a shaker or a tambourine way back in the mix, and because so much of the quick edits hint at 16th notes, you almost expect the song to break out into full-on rave-style beats. I’m glad it doesn’t.

3. The non-cadence ending. Chopin’s original ends with a grand and ominous minor cadence. But here, after hinting at some kind of resolution for a while, Perkins leaves us hanging.

Recommended listening activity:

Standing under a tree while it sheds its leaves.

Buy it here.