Written in the autumn and winter of 1976, this work is a kind of declaration of belief on the part of Alan Bush. The Preludes expound the six modes and pentatonic scale which together make up the tonal basis of the English national style. These seven scales are presented in some cases diatonically, in others with chromatically altered notes. The keys start with F sharp and proceed by rising fifths, ending with B.
Six only of the Preludes are actually based on English song or dance tunes, the remainder having been freely composed but within the vocabulary of English intervals and on the basis of English intervals and on the basis of English rhythms.
The first performance was given by Alan Bush (piano) at a Concert of Compositions by Alan Bush at the Wigmore Hall, 30 October 1977.