Letter Variations (2008)

Along with Waves, this is probably the most substantial of my early piano works, and certainly the largest. These variations do not have a common theme or harmonic progression. Instead, they are variations on various concepts found throughout the piece, such as ostinato patterns, static harmony based on A, octave- and fifth-based aggregates, specific kinds of integration of the hands' parts, different kinds of repeats, and so on. The variation principle itself is also a source of two variations, which are tiny sets of variations themselves. Consequently, any number of individual variations may be played in concert, and in any order. Despite this state of affairs, some melodies still play a prominent part in most variations, sometimes quite clearly, and sometimes almost completely obscured by various other devices.

Each variation is named after a consonant from the English alphabet, and each carries a little prose fragment with it, explaining, in a way, the relationship between the letter and the music. The piece was composed mostly on paper, which is unusual for me. Various concerns prevented me from making a proper digital edition for a number of years. The first digital edition I made, which until 2016 was the only one that was available, carried only four variations and had a few errors uncorrected. This edition may still be found elsewhere, but it is superceded completely by the new one, which includes all of the 20 variations, corrects the errors found in the earlier edition, etc. For convenience, the four variations previously available are included as the first four here.

Any number of the variations may be played in any order.


  – Complete score, 20 variations, alphabetical order
  – Preface to the third edition, with additional performance notes

Audio (MIDI):

  – Variation B
  – Variation C
  – Variation D
  – Variation F
  – Variation G
  – Variation H
  – Variation J
  – Variation K
  – Variation L
  – Variation M
  – Variation N
  – Variation P
  – Variation Q
  – Variation R
  – Variation S
  – Variation T
  – Variation V
  – Variation W
  – Variation X
  – Variation Z

Audio (Live):

  – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-k8sTggjvvQ (5 movements, performed by Timur Ismagilov, 2016)