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Ragtime Piano, Part 2

 




Pitter Patter Rag

1910

Music by: Joseph M. Daly
Lyrics by: None
Cover artist: Starmer

Lyrical and delicate, that's how I would describe this wonderful rag published by the composer in Boston, Mass. A classic rag in construction with an introduction followed by an AABBAC(Trio)CBB. Interestingly, the Trio uses part of the same introduction from the beginning of the piece. It is also interesting that rather than return to the "A" strain for the ending, Daly returns to the "B" strain. This work is deserving of more exposure and is an excellent example of a rag that is both classic and musically creative. I'm surprised it has not survived as one of the more often played rags.

Joseph M. Daly wrote a number of other works, most of which were songs rather than instrumental rags. Included in his credits are Scented Roses Waltzes 1909, Good Fellowship; March and two-step, 1912, Just for a Dear Little Girl, 1910 and The Chicken Reel from 1910 which gained a certain amount of notoriety in being performed by Garrison Keillor et. al on the Prairie Home Companion in January of 2000. As well as having written many contemporary works, Daly also had his own publishing house and had some distinction in publishing at least one of Joplin's Rags.

Enjoy this Rag now (SCORCH format)

listen to MIDI version

 

Pudge Two Step and March

1905

Music by: Hazel Million
Lyrics by: None
Cover artist: unknown

Subtitled, "A Fine Rag Time March" this work begins to move the line between classic ragtime and ragtime era music. However, it is still very much a rag and has all the characteristics but has fallen from the "classic rag" definition, slightly. (For a look at the classic rag, see our article about Ragtime ). Constructed in an abbreviated AABCC form, it is a melodic and joyful work. I cannot find any reference to this work anywhere on the net, so this may represent a rare premiere of a previously "undiscovered" rag on the net.

Hazel Million is another of the lost composers from the past. I can find no reference to her. What a shame for she has left us with at least one fine work that deserves preservation.

Hear this great Rag Time March (scorch format)

listen to MIDI version


Rambling Mose

1903

Music by: John F. Barth
Lyrics by: None
Cover artist: Ora Coltman

During the ragtime era, a number of works were issued that were titled as "Slow Drags" or "Drags". In most cases, these works were also ragtime pieces in the classic sense. many were not. However, this example could easily be titled "Ragtime Mose" for it very closely follows the general structure of a ragtime classic. After a five bar introduction we have an AABBACC(Trio)TransitionBB structure. Clear syncopation and good melodic variety add value to the work and create an enjoyable listening experience. This work, like the last one, is a "new discovery" and this may also be an Internet premiere. I can find no listings for the work or, unfortunately, for the composer. Published by a relatively minor regional publisher in Cleveland, Ohio, it is likely this work never enjoyed a national exposure and therefore, stayed rather obscure.

Listen to this Slow Drag March(scorch format only)

Listen to MIDI version

A Little On The Rag-Time

1900

Music by: S.G. Kiesling
Lyrics by: None
Cover artist: Unknown

The cover of this issue speaks volumes about the emergence of Ragtime and stereotypes of the period. It depicts a blackface production with the blacks dancing and a white pianist. Ragtime music was seen as "black" music, yet the artist could not imagine the pianist or composer as black. In fact, we know that black composers were the most prominent developers of ragtime. This type work, a Cakewalk, is often included as a ragtime piece but in fact, the cakewalk is an entirely separate musical genre. Cakewalks originated well before rags and actually have their origins in Minstrel shows as "walk-arounds" the finales of the minstrel revues. According to at least one source, cakewalks had their origins in the slaves parody of white owners "high manners and fancy dances". The name itself supposedly is from the prize (a cake) given to the best dancers among the slaves.

The cakewalk was popularized and refined through many all black musicals of the late 1890's. As ragtime became popular, cakewalks were associated with it (due to the syncopation) and as the new century and the ragtime fad grew, associating a cakewalk with ragtime was a wise marketing decision.

We know Keisling wrote some other music, notably, The Homeward March in 1900, and Electric Light, 1896, however, again we have a composer who has faded into the sunset. This work was published by Kiesling himself so we know he was a publisher for at least one shining moment. As you listen to the work, decide for yourself, is this or is this not a rag? Remember, syncopation alone does not define a rag.

Hear this great old cakewalk (scorch)

Listen to MIDI version


The Red Rose Rag

1911

Music by: Percy Wenrich
Lyrics by: Edward Madden
Cover artist: unknown

For our last two works this month, I want to look at the "Rag song", a genre that evolved at the same time as a result of the classic ragtime fad. This song, has a strikingly beautiful cover with a rather shocking pose (for the time) by Dolly Connoly, complete with cigarette and an up-skirt view. Connoly by the way, was the wife of the composer, Wenrich, and had a very successful career of her own as a performer. The Rag song evolved during the same period as ragtime and were more a marketing ploy than they were true rags. Many of the popular songs during this period including coon songs and blues songs were referred to as ragtime songs. In fact, virtually any song that contained a strong rhythmic content was considered a rag song. Alexander's Ragtime Band, often cited as the definitive rag song, is virtually unsyncopated and about as far from a true rag as one can get. That probably influenced the wide acceptance of many unsyncopated songs as rag songs. When blues became popular, they were also included as rag songs and it was only when jazz came into wide play that ragtime and rag songs began to disappear. For more on ragtime be sure to read our article on Ragtime in our "In Search Of" series.

This song, by the great team of Wenrich and Madden, is moving away from the classic rag but it does have some elements including a certain amount of syncopation and a little bit of rag sound. Note also the blues sound, it almost sounds like the Memphis Blues by Handy in one section with liberal use of the blue note.

Percy Wenrich. (b. Jan. 23, 1887, Joplin, MO, d. 1952, NYC). Wenrich wrote a number of hit songs many of which were of the rag genre (see The Smiler in our catalog for one of his best). Wenrich, came from a musical family. His mother taught him to play the organ and the piano while he was still a child. A little later, he would write melodies and his father would write the lyrics. Often, his songs were heard at conventions and political rallies. When he was 21 years old, he enrolled in the Chicago Music College, and while there had two of his songs published by a Chicago publisher; Ashy Africa and Just Because I'm From Missouri" Among his biggest hits were: 1909, Put On Your Old Gray Bonnet, lyric Stanley Murphy, 1912 Moonlight Bay, lyric by Edward Madden, 1914 When You Wore A Tulip, lyric by Jack Mahoney. In 1914 he scored the Broadway show Crinoline Girl and in 1921 the Broadway show The Right Girl, 1926 the Broadway show Castles in the Air and in 1930 scored the Broadway show Who Cares?.

Enjoy this unique Rag song (scorch)

Listen to MIDI version


He's A Rag Picker

1914

Music by: Irving Berlin
Lyrics by: Berlin
Cover artist: John Frew

Our last featured work is another Rag song by the great Irving Berlin. The Frew cover conveys the flavor and theme of the song, about a man who picks out rags on the piano day and night. Of course, the song itself is pretty far from being a rag but while preparing the midi file for this one, I noticed an uncanny similarity to Wenrich's Red Rose Rag. In fact, though a fairly common rhythmic convention was used, I could not help but wonder if Berlin "borrowed" the chorus from Red Rose Rag? Decide for yourself in listening to them. To look at them more closely, I have created a comparison of the musical themes. You'll need the Sibelius Scorch player for this so if you have not yet got it, go get it now, otherwise you will miss out on this musical example. If you listen to them, let me know your opinion.

Songs like this and ragtime songs are featured by many folks on the net. Our favorite, "Perfessor" Bill Edwards, is a player who has created an excellent Ragtime site. If you can't get enough of Ragtime, "Perfessor" Bill can fill your needs. We consider his site the best current Ragtime themed music site on the net today. His site is almost (wink) as good as ours. Visit him if you want more Ragtime MIDI.

Enjoy this Berlin Rag song (scorch)

Listen to MIDI version

That's it for this month's feature, as always, we hope you have enjoyed the music and learned something from it. Be sure to read this month's updated installment of "In search of" Ragtime before you leave us. You will find a couple more Etude covers and several wonderful songs by this neglected composer. Once you hear her music, you'll surely want to hear more. As for next month, we will have a new feature about the music of E.T. Paull. We first featured his music almost two years ago and since then we have acquired quite a few more of his great marches, so it seems like time to give you a dose of some "new" ET Paull works rescued from the past. paull covers are some of the most colorful ever printed, don't miss it!. We will also introduce a new article about Lithography and the history of printing music.

If you would like to return to part A of this month's issue, click here.



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