Ragtime Composition Notes

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Café Parisien - A Melancholy Rag (Oleg Mezjuev, 1990). This piece was written to the memory of the musicians of the Titanic. There were two orchestras on board the Titanic, one of which used to play in a first-class café called "Café Parisien". They played all types of music and, of course, they played some ragtime too. The entire repertoire of the two orchestras included 340 numbers and the ragtime pieces were: "Ragtime Revue", "Plantation Songs", "Teddy Bears' Picnic", "Whistler & His Dog", "Gaby Glide", "Hitchy Koo", "Powder Rag", "You Made Me Love You", "When The Midnight Choo Choo Leaves for Alabam' ", "Alexander's Ragtime Band", "Ginger", "Red Pepper Rag", "Red Wing", "The Nigger's Birthday", "Ma Dusky Maid", "The Coon's Patrol" and "Yankee Grit". About the musicians of the Titanic I use to say that "they also played ragtime" (as a paraphrase to "they all played ragtime"). After the Titanic collided with the iceberg they took their instruments with them and moved to the lifeboat deck, where they continued to play for the passengers. They remained there until shortly before the ship went down at 2.20 A.M. on April 15, 1912. None of them survived.

Calliope Rag (James Scott & Robert R. Darch, ca 1910 & 1966) An enchanting work discovered by Robert Darch, who obtained the manuscript from one of Scott's sisters, with the information that Scott played it on the steam calliope at Lakeside Park, located between Carthage and Joplin, Missouri. This rag was probably written prior to 1910. It was arranged and edited in 1966 by Donald Ashwander for the 3rd edition of "They All Played Ragtime".

For those of you unfamiliar with the "Calliope" of the title, a calliope is an instrument (named after Calliope, the greek muse of epic poetry) consisting of a keyboard connected to a set of steam driven whistles. These were commonly used on the great paddle-wheelers of the Mississipps River. They were also used in circuses. These instruments had an incredible volume and could be heard for miles, announcing the arrival of the riverboat or circus coming to town.

Candela (Frank French, 1996). In 1996 Frank French visited Cuba and was strongly affected by its music. In 1997 he published a series of syncopated works (all composed in 1996), which he called "Toca con Clave - Creole Suite for Piano". "Candela" is one of five pieces in that suite, along with "Cocinero", "Bolero", "Campo Criollo" and "Jasmine". These works must be considered as derivative of Cuban music and connected with various forms of Creole music of Latin America and of the Louisiana territory of the United States. They are in some instances reminiscent of the music of Louis Moreau Gottschalk, Ernesto Nazareth, Ernesto Lecuona and Ferd Jelly Roll Morton.

Campo Criollo (Frank French, 1996). "Campo Criollo" is part of the suite "Toca con Clave" composed by Frank French in 1996. This MIDI sequence is a recording of a live performance played by the composer at Rudi Salci's in San Jose, California in June 1998. The sheet music for this piece appears in the folio "Buon Ritmo Sempre Marcato", with CD of the same name.

Capitola Rain (James E. O'Briant, 1998). The winter season of 1997-98 has been a particularly wet one on California's Central Coast. The first two weeks of January brought rain nearly every day. I spent part of that week at home in Gilroy, and part of it in the little seaside resort town of Capitola-by-the-Sea, on Monterey Bay. This included a couple of afternoons sitting at a table at Zelda's Restaurant with my laptop computer, looking out at the gray skies, the fog, the rain, and the ocean waves. I believe that the quiet dreariness of this scene, in a town that in summer is all brightness and color and excitement, is captured in both the music and the title of "Capitola Rain". [James E. O'Briant]

Cataract Rag (Robert Hampton, 1914). The masterpiece of the virtuosic late-St. Louis style in ragtime. It has an intricate structure characterized by quick sixteenth-note movements in octaves and dramatic ascending and descending arpeggios in thirty-second note triplets, descriptive of a waterfall. Charley Thompson, Hampton's contemporary, recalled that the composer's performance was even more complex than the score - containing more "fill-ins".

Chandelier Rag (Hal Isbitz, 1985). "Chandelier Rag" opens the door on this musical odyssey in an appropriately anticipatory and contemplative manner, a work by one of the most significant composers of New Ragtime and related forms, Hal Isbitz. This piece, which dates from 1985, began as a sort of revisitation or inspired reworking of an earlier composition. As the opening phrases arrived in the author's consciousness, they were found to be altered from the original in such a way as to seem haunted, in effect, transformed by some mysterious residue left from the passage of time. Isbitz has been influenced by a variety of musical worlds, including nineteenth century Romanticism, Broadway show tunes, Classic Ragtime and Brazilian Tango. In addition, his classical training and extensive study of composition endow his pieces with rich counterpoint, clarity of melodic movement and a harmonic sense like no other. "Chandelier Rag" stands as a testament to the adaptability and expressive potential of the ragtime form. [Scott Kirby]

Chimes - A Novelty Rag (Homer Denney, 1910). "Chimes" was written and copyrighted in 1910 by Homer Denney; copyright transferred 1911 to H. R. McClure Co., Sidney, Ohio. The cover says, "As Played Nightly on STEAMER Island Queen". This is one of two rags on this website, that were played on the "Island Queen" (the other one is "The Queen Rag - March and Two Step" by Floyd Willis).

Chimney Creek Rag (William Rowland, 2004). "Chimney Creek Rag" was commissioned in honor of the 79th birthday of Mrs. Billie Jeanne Humphries Johnson. The title was suggested by the region in Idaho where she grew up. [William Rowland]

Chrysanthemum, The - An Afro-American Intermezzo (Scott Joplin, 1904). Rhythmic beauty may be shaped sometimes by a lack of syncopated action in the right hand. Joplin's "The Chrysanthemum" shows a syncopated rhythm only in its D strain, this beautiful medley consisting actually of an A impromptu, a B March, a C cakewalk, and a D rag. (Its subtitle, "An Afro-American Intermezzo", points to this medley or suite construction).

Colleen's Rag (James F. Andris, 1994). Written for a dear friend of mine, Colleen Hawkins, in celebration of her life. She does perform this rag at the monthly Ragtime Rendezvous in St. Louis, as well as the "Euclid Avenue Rag". [James F. Andris]

Collins Street Rag (Paul Copeland, 2000). Collins Street is in Central City district of Melbourne. There are many fine antique shops, restaurants, theatres, boutiques, professional suites (doctors, dentists etc), a few churches and much to see. Some of the buildings because of their facades have been classified by the National Trust and will never be demolished. The first section (A) is to be played very romantically. [Paul Copeland]

Commedia Dell'Arte Ragtime (Benjamin Intartaglia, 1999). This piece was written in May 1999, and is dedicated to Viviane F. It's a musical farce, employing a melody from a 19th century French opérette in the strain after the interlude. The contrasts portray Harlequin, Polichinelle and the other characters of the comedy. This piece refers to my Italian origins. [Benjamin Intartaglia]

Coon's Birthday - American Cake-Walk (Paul Lincke, 1903). This cakewalk was written by the German composer Paul Lincke and published in 1903 by Apollo-Verlag, Berlin. It was arranged and sequenced in 1997 by Christian Reichel, Austria. The repeat of the second strain, with its South American rhythms in the left hand, is truly wonderful. The alternative version of the third strain was originally printed as an ossia, but Christian thought it sounded good when played together with the first version.

Cow Traps (Hamish Davidson, 2000). Fats Waller's "Viper's Drag" was the inspiration for the bluesy A Part. The other two parts would most commonly be labelled folk ragtime. Folk ragtime was popularised by Trebor Tichenor during the ragtime revival of the seventies. I try hard to write in a pianistic style, but my bluegrass, celtic, and folk roots nevertheless shine through. [Hamish Davidson]

Cyrkowe dziewczyny (Girls from the Circus) (Mateusz Watroba, 1992). The title was given much later, when I recorded this piece on a low-output MC titled "Welcome to the circus". However, the true inspiration for this piece was sexual arousal felt by a young man who sees (or thinks about) a sexually attractive woman behaving in a kinky way. [Mateusz Watroba]

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Copyright © 1996 Oleg Mezjuev.
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