Ragtime Composition Notes

The Flowers

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Pamparag (Ezequiel Pallejá, 1997). The name refers to the Argentine Pampas, the extensive plain in which Buenos Aires is located. Ragtime is a North American music form, but I believe that it has become as universal as jazz or classical music. It is difficult for me to comment my own composition, but I think it is possible to recognize some classical influences (Chopin, perhaps? Joplin, for sure.) [Ezequiel Pallejá]

Parisian Rag (Dénes Dosztán, 2002). "Parisian Rag" was composed in early August of 2002, and is dedicated to my good friend, Benjamin Intartaglia, who invited me to visit him in Paris that summer. The structure is based on marches (ABAC), including an introduction and a modulatory interlude. It's a melodic and solid ragtime composition, reminiscent of Scott Joplin's style - particularly the A strain. An arranged version of it was performed for the first time in October 2002 by the Bohém Ragtime Jazzband. [Dénes Dosztán]

Peacherine Rag (Scott Joplin, 1901). Not considered by some to be one of Joplin's most memorable rags, it is nevertheless a pleasant piece with certain echoes of his greatest hit "Maple Leaf Rag" from 1899.

Perfection (Mateusz Watroba, 1992). Composed on the first day of the students' Christmas holidays, on the 18th of December, 1992. The title reflects my attitude to the piece at that time - I was playing it, amazed with the beauty of music that was coming from under my fingers. And again, I was at home, with my parents - hence the optimistic output of the whole piece. [Mateusz Watroba]

Personality (William Rowland, 1975). "Personality" was composed in 1975 for my sisters Virginia Hogan and Carol Hogue. [William Rowland]

Phantom Rag, The (Sol Violinsky & Al W. Brown, 1911). This rag was written by Sol Violinsky (1885-1963) in collaboration with Al W. Brown (1884-1924) and was published on June 9, 1911 by J. Fred Helf Co., New York. Violinsky was a pseudonym for Sol Ginsberg. He was born on July 4, 1885 in Kiev, Russia and was a New York Symphony player (according to the ragtime historian Dave Jasen).

Pianoflage (Roy Bargy, 1922). "Pianoflage" is Roy Bargy's finest novelty composition and his fifth excursion in the idiom. It was published by Sam Fox Publishing Company on June 27, 1922.

Pickles and Peppers (Adaline Shepherd, 1906). Adaline Shepherd was born in Algona, Iowa, on August 19, 1883. She spent most of her life in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where she met and married Fred Sherman Olson, an insurance company executive. They and their three children lived in Milwaukee under very comfortable circumstances. Adaline Shepherd Olson died on March 12, 1950. In a 1977 interview, members of her family recalled that she continued to play the piano even after afflicted with arthritis, but that the family in general did not consider her music to be very important or, indeed, very good.

Adaline Shepherd's first rag was "Pickles and Peppers", written in 1906. It was followed by "Wireless Rag" (1909) and "Live Wires" (1910). Her last known composition, "Victory March", dates from 1917. Despite her family's opinion of later years, "Pickles and Peppers" became very popular. William Jennings Bryan used it in his unsuccessful presidential campaign of 1908, and "Pickles and Peppers" sold over 200 000 sheet music copies in 1908 alone. It continued to sell well for a number of years thereafter.

Popularity - March & Two-Step (George M. Cohan, 1906). As the title suggests, this tune isn't strictly speaking a ragtime tune. The designation "March & Two Step" does, however, allow enough leeway for it to be included within this category. The piece was written in 1906 by the American showman and composer George M. Cohan, probably best remembered for the song "I'm a Yankee-Doodle Dandy".

Puffing Billy Rag (Paul Copeland, 2000). Puffing Billy is a Victorian icon in the form of a very old steam train that runs weekly in the Dandenongs (Mountains about 30 miles from the main city), about 10 miles from where we live.

There is a 'Puffing Billy' restoration society, and each year there is a foot race for people to see if they can outrun 'Puffing Billy' - they can't but some get close.

The 'Puffing Billy' trip is a two way trip through the Dandenongs. It is a lot of fun poking your head out of the carriages as the train goes clackety clack. We have been on the trip a couple of times.

The sections have annotations:

Section A. Easy going.
Section B. Off the Tracks.

The left hand in this section is harmonically correct, but the right hand is very discordant as the train runs off the lines and the driver tries to get the train back online.

Section A1 - Safe again.
Section D. Admiring the Scenery.
Section E. Homeward Bound after a very enjoyable day.
( A very confident and exhilarating elody).

The last 2 chords are very discordant and unexpected (Copeland style here). Instead of the dominant tonic progression, I have used a major dominant seventh with an augmented fifth, followed by a tonic major seventh with an augmented fifth. The harmony is unresolved! (Perhaps this is the sound of 'Puffing Billy' breathing a sigh of relief at getting back to the station safely).

Incidentally, the 4 bar introduction is supposed to be the 'Puffing Billy' starting off. The harmonies here are definitely 'Copeland' with a minor triad simultaneously being played with a major triad, suitably voiced so as not to be too discordant. [Paul Copeland]

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Copyright © 1996 Oleg Mezjuev.
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