It is a pleasure for me to introduce Spare Keys, my fourth CD of original compositions for piano. Once again, I have attempted to produce pieces in a variety of styles and it is my hope that everyone who listens will be able to find at least a few pieces to enjoy. My son, Ben, has contributed an exciting new piece entitled "Storm at C" and Ellie, my daughter, demonstrates her instrumental versatility by playing three instruments on "Beholding Three Eleanors." A few comments on the individual pieces: 1. Raindrop Reflections: This piece, the first one I composed for this CD, was written towards the end of 2009 and was inspired by the sound of gentle rainfall in autumn. It is affectionately dedicated to Georgette Thompson, who passed away earlier that year and whose generous bequest helped fund this project. 2. Petit Rondeau: For each of my albums, I have tried to compose one piece in the style of the classical era. A rondeau (or "rondo") is a musical form from that era in which a main theme recurs repeatedly throughout the piece. This example, composed earlier this year, is dedicated to my fabulous mother, Marilynn Fine (who is rather petite herself). 3. The Fifth Amendment: This upbeat piece was composed this past winter. The baseline is made up largely of fifths. It is dedicated to my longtime friend, Paul Davis ("Mel"), one of the smartest and funniest people around. 4. Shadows Numberless: This piece was written in March of 2010 for my wonderful father, Burril Fine. The title comes from the opening stanza of his favorite poem, Keat's Ode to a Nightingale. 5. Dear TICS: I started composing this lively piece early on a Saturday morning in April of 2010. It was, in fact, a little too early for my wife, who had not yet had finished her morning cup of coffee. Karen looked at me rather mournfully and asked: "Dear, must you play That Inordinately Chipper Song?" 6. Edison High Alma Mater: My high school puts on a show each year called The Cat's Meow. In my sophomore year, the show was about a fictional high school named Edison High. Naturally, the school needed an appropriately wistful alma mater. Paul Davis wrote the lyrics, including this moving final stanza: "As our lives do pass us by/And our bulbs grow dim and die,/We will be brightened by the memories of you,/Our dear old Edison High." 7. Soul and Heart: I played this piece in The Cat's Meow my junior year and on WBZ-TV in Boston four years later. I would start a performance by playing the beginning pianist's trusted standby, "Heart and Soul" (music by Hoagy Carmichael), and filling it with numerous awful mistakes. Then, just when the audience couldn't take it anymore, I'd apologize for the mistakes, claim that they were due to cold hands, and put on a pair of mittens. Then, with mittens on, I'd rev up the tempo and play (ideally, without mistakes) a jazzy takeoff on the original. 8. Her Father's Voice: This piece was written earlier this year as a gift for my friend (and talented recording engineer), Ayrik Wojahn. His wife, Jamie, just gave birth to their first child (Quinn) in June of this year. I sought to conjure up an image of Ayrik holding and talking to his newborn daughter (hence the bass clef melody). 9. The Kant Song or THE TRANSCENDENTAL DEDUCTION of the Pure Concepts of Understanding: Roderick Long is a very talented lyricist with whom I've written several songs while we were in college. Wild men that we were, we decided one time that it would be fun to try to summarize Kant's philosophy in rhymed verse and ragtime music. For this CD, I didn't have a singer who could do justice to Roderick's wonderfully clever lyrics, but interested listeners can read those lyrics and hear the song sung by a talentless amateur by searching "The Kant Song" on Google. 10. Promise: This song dates to 1982, when I was entrusted with a set of lyrics by Tammi (Bexten) Weiss. I have very fond memories of playing the completed song for Tammi and our mutual friends, Liz Maxwell and Abby (Edinger) Craddock. 11. Ballad of the Unknown Pimble: This is the music from another collaboration with Roderick. The song is about a mythical explosion in an organic chemistry laboratory. 12. B Flat-tery: For my last CD, White Coat Compositions, I improvised a piece called "China Patterns" as I sat at the piano in the recording studio. I had such a good time that I decided to improvise a piece for Spare Keys as well with a goal of producing music with less formal structure and a greater sense of spontaneity. This piece is dedicated to Patricia Edinger, affectionately known as "Mom E." 13. Macho Points: This ragtime piece was started when I was in high school and completed this year. The title comes from a game I've been playing for almost twenty years with my good friend, John Nastelin. Perhaps the length of the piece is a good indication of how many macho points I've earned over the years. 14. Raindrops Revisited / 15. After the Rain: The rain returns, followed by a contemplative piece that I wrote a few years ago. It includes variations on a theme that I composed for my cousin, Allison Kimball, on the occasion of her wedding. 16. Beholding Three Eleanors: I composed piano pieces for my children after each was born. To my great delight, Ellie has learned to play her piece, which I had entitled "Beholding Eleanor." This recording has Ellie playing the original piano part, as well as cello and flute parts that I composed for her this past March. Naturally, the new arrangement had to be called "Beholding Three Eleanors." Ellie has been taking cello lessons from Susan Nye for about ten months and she plays on a cello made by her Aunt Freda (Yoshioka). 17. Storm at C: This piece was composed and performed by my son, Ben. I told him that I had to put it last because my pieces would suffer by comparison if they had to follow his! ----Paul L. Fine June, 2010.