Three Etudes for Piano are "compositional etudes" and not meant to teach performance technique, rather, they are explorations into patterns and processes.
I. Telegraph Variations ("What Hath God Wrought") is a set of variations on the rhythmic theme presented in the beginning. This rhythm comes from the Morse Code letters that spell out the famous first telegraph sent by Samuel Morse on May 24, 1828.
II. "Night-- that must be watched away" presents a three-note ostinato which is built upon each measure with one more note. This reaches a climax, after which the notes are taken away one by one starting with the last one added until the etude ends as it began. The titles comes from the following poem by Emily Dickinson... A Night—there lay the Days between-- The Day that was Before-- And Day that was Behind—were one-- And now—'twas Night—was here--
Slow—Night—that must be watched away-- As Grains upon a shore-- Too imperceptible to note-- Till it be night—no more—
III. Let It Ride also uses additive and subtractive processes, beginning with a quarter note ostinato and adding an eight note to the gesture every two measures. This process reaches a climax three times, and restarts on a new quarter note ostinato the first two times. The third time however, instead of restarting, a subtractive process is used, taking away the last eighth note added every two measures, thus making this third section a palindrome.
Three Etudes for Piano were composed for Brendan Jacklin.