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Songbook Review: Meldavian Piano Literature Vol. 1
Dave Fox
Cover image of the songbook Meldavian Piano Literature Vol. 1 by Dave Fox
Meldavian Piano Literature Vol. 1
Dave Fox
2021 / Effie Music
33 pages / 8 songs
Review by Kathy Parsons
Meldavian Piano Literature Vol. 1 is a fascinating sheet music book from pianist/ composer/educator Dave Fox. No newcomer to the piano world, the North Carolina native has had a wide-ranging career in jazz and classical music and just about every genre in between. In addition to his solo piano compositions and recordings, Fox leads Draves, The Meldavians and The Dave Fox Group, teaches at Greensboro College, and is a writer.

When Dave Fox asked me to review his songbook, he also sent me a thumb drive of the eight piano solos recorded by himself, a two chapters from the book that goes with the music, and a collection of Meldavian verse - one verse for each piece of music. The more I read, the more curious I became about how all of these elements work together so I asked Dave about the origin of The Meldavians. In a nutshell, in 2011-12, Dave formed a group whose music was "spacey" at times. The group needed a name so Dave created the idea of Meldavia, a magical land on the planet Teronus, and his group became The Meldavians. Their first album was Farewell Arigemon and Dave wrote The Illustrated Tales of Meldavia: Volume I: The Summer of Isnon to help market it. He currently has four recording projects and two more books on the way, all centered around the distant planet Teronus, the land of Meldavia, and the idea that at some point in time Meldavians came to earth and inhabited some of our bodies, Dave's included.

The eight pieces in the sheet music book are varied in style. Fox describes the "aesthetic" of his approach to the music as: "Traditional and classical harmonic progressions, along with mostly motivic development are combined with odd and changing meters PLUS Americana piano stylings (such as Aaron Copland, Keith Jarrett and the like.) From a pedagogical standpoint my goal is to show the beauty of harmonic waves that are experienced in regular rolling patterns even though they may be counted as fives, or sevens. Odd meters need not be a harsh experience. In fact, most people don't even realize the odd meters when hearing these pieces, something I am happy to report!"

Those unusual time signatures, lots of accidentals and frequent key signature changes are the main challenges in playing the songbook and would make the music difficult for beginning-intermediate pianists. Those at an early-advanced level and beyond shouldn't have much trouble with a little practice. Melodic and fun to play, this unique collection is a great introduction to Dave Fox's piano music!

The songbook is available as a printed book or a PDF download from Dave's site and the printed books are also available from Moore Music Company. Those who sign up to be on Dave's email list will receive a free download of either an audio file or sheet music (same link as above).

The titles of the pieces, the keys they are in and the number of pages are:

Abecmont - Key of E (4 sharps)/ C (0 sharps or flats)/ F minor & Ab (4 flats) - 2 1/2 pages
The Swing at the Old Creek - Key of G (1 sharp) - 3+ pages
Cold Chases - Key of F (1 flat)/ Db (5 flats) - 2 pages
Hymn - Key of C - 1/2 page
Around We All Go - Key of A (3 sharps)/ Dmajor/ B minor (2 sharps) - 4 pages
A Dream March - Key of E (4 sharps)/ A (3 sharps) - 3 1/2 pages
South of the hors d'oeuvres - Key of Bb (2 flats)/ Gb (6 flats)/ G minor (2 flats) - 4 pages
M.H. Down - Key of Bb (2 flats)/ Gb (6 flats)/ E (4 sharps)/ Ab (4 flats)/ C - 7 pages
August 20, 2021