Ragtime #3: George Takei Rag

keyboard shortcuts

About this score

Happy birthday, George Takei! I've been working on this composition for about three months now and am pretty sure it's complete. (VIDEO SCORE TO THE RIGHT, made with the MuseScore MP3 of this piece. "Made Easy" arrangement at http://musescore.com/arthurbreur/george-takei-rag-made-easy.)

This piece is composed off the letters of George Takei's name (just continuing the additional letters of the alphabet up the scale after A-G), and from patterns created by other words and names from George's life. (I've marked out where the notes are derived directly from his name in the first melody.)

Section by section:

The first section is composed off of the letters of George Takei's name, and is intentionally upbeat and optimistic. The theme is intended to represent his youth, his early family life, and his overall personality. I had the pleasure of interviewing Mr. Takei by phone once a few years ago, and it was a delight speaking to him.

The second section represents the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II. It is a sad part of America's history, and George Takei has made it part of his life to bring awareness to a time when America didn't behave so beautifully. The section is composed in a minor key, reflects the melodies of songs of Americana, and is intentionally composed so the melody and the accompaniment are not lined up, as the situation at the time was not in alignment with our country's principles.

The third section is all about Hollywood. The melody plays on the many celebratory melodies about Hollywood and show business, right up to the "big finish" cadences that lead the section into...

The fourth section comes as a surprise and suddenly turns a corner into very different places than the earlier sections, while intentionally keeping rhythms and references to other moments in the piece. The melody (if I do say so myself) is classy and sophisticated, even "cool"—the proud protagonist has found his stride, and it's more than just OK to be Takei.

Note: The 12-bar finale may or may not get added to in time; we'll have to see.
Previous installments of this process of writing this composition are at:
http://musescore.com/arthurbreur/ragtime-3-in-progress-4-of-5
http://musescore.com/arthurbreur/ragtime-3-in-progress-3-of-5
http://musescore.com/arthurbreur/ragtime-3-in-progress-2-of-5
http://musescore.com/arthurbreur/ragtime-3-in-progress-1-of-5

Edited May 6, 2013: Corrected harmonies in 4th section.

Genre: Contemporary
Format: Composition

Comments (57)

roussetfrancois's picture

I just started to learn it :D

arthurbreur's picture

Wonderful! Please share your thoughts on playing it. I know if I were not the composer, I would have some things to say to me about a few of the passages. After most of a year, I'm still challenged by a few of the passages—though I'm hardly a concert pianist. I would love to hear you perform the piece, either YouTube/videoscore or as a SoundCloud recording!

roussetfrancois's picture

I don't know if I will once be able to play it correctly, it is really not easy ^^ but if I do I'll make a record if you want :)

arthurbreur's picture

There is a simpler version -- and ragtime is a loose enough genre that it's common to tweak the exact notes and just *play* the general idea. Simpler version is at http://musescore.com/arthurbreur/george-takei-rag-made-easy.

easily's picture

By the way, why, in the first three measures of the left hand, the treble key is offset by two notches down? With a normal treble key the first note would be an E, but obviously it is meant to be a G...

arthurbreur's picture

THANK YOU! It's not an E, but in fact is a G -- however, I grabbed the wrong clef from the MuseScore clef selections. If you look closely, you'll see that the "cross-hairs" made by the loop in the treble clef on the lower staff are targeting the first line of the staff, not the second. I was taught that the treble clef is a stylized "G", and that the "cross-hairs" on the clef (where the clef circles around its own vertical line) are supposed to point to where G is on the staff. So the note to be played there IS a G, I just have the incorrect clef positioning on that staff. Fixing it now!

dshostakovich's picture

delightful happy composition, outstanding, very clever and successful composing off his name.
definitely a favorite. bravo!

arthurbreur's picture

Thank you! George Takei is such a positive and—from all appearances—happy person, that I couldn't create a melancholy rag about him! Only the second section is sad, because it represents the sad time in American history (and Mr. Takei's childhood) when America put Japanese-Americans in prison camps. But it is wrapped on both sides by his happy and, I feel, triumphant-feeling melody.

M.S.Vovos's picture

Wonderful! :)

arthurbreur's picture

Thank you!

Sepehr Keyhani's picture

The third section (Hollywood) is AMAZING !

arthurbreur's picture

Thank you, Sepehr. And just wait until you hear the live performance. I'm getting pretty good at playing this now (I'd better, as I'm performing it live in front of an audience for the first time in just TWO WEEKS). The Hollywood section is cool, and the fourth section is much better live than MIDI.

easily's picture

Arthur, this is an amazing piece and I've been learning it for the past month. It's really challenging and more so with the indicated speed :) I'm really looking forward to see a video of you playing it (I hope there will be one once).

arthurbreur's picture

Edited May 6, 2013: Corrected harmonies in 4th section.

arthurbreur's picture

Minor edits made to the fourth section -- it was impossible to play some of what I had originally arranged, and the final chord was bugging me.

arthurbreur's picture

...and then fixed a couple of stinkers in my edits.

Second_Rachmaninov's picture

Awesome! This is a very good ragtime! It totally puts off a story in 3 and half minutes, and an accurate story at that.

arthurbreur's picture

Thank you. As with any person, George Takei's life is far richer than a single musical piece could convey. I am doing my best not to second-guess all the things I ommited. He well deserves a full concert worth of compositions. I hate to sound like I am "gushing", but the man has achieved some remarkable things for Japanese-Americans and the LGBT comunity, and he is talented and delightfully charming. And if I say much more, there's going to be a restraining order with my name on it! ;)

arthurbreur's picture

Yes, I saw the blog post (I had pointed out the George Takei tweet in the "Improving MuseScore.com" group discussion). They pointed out that they had blogged about this, and then included a link to the blog post in their email newsletter. It has been a fun experience seeing the attention that single tweet caused. It's all an unexpected treat.

johnbarto's picture

Wonderful, I wish could still play, I would learn this. George Takei has a very humourous side too. See him at the 'roast' of William Shatner. His voice gets ever deeper.

arthurbreur's picture

Thank you, John. Yes, George Takei's sense of humor is pretty awesome, especially in that he doesn't seem to take HIMSELF too seriously. He's able to be earthy while simultaneously remaining extremely classy, in a way that not many people can manage.

doombot9000's picture

Wow, this is impressive! George Takei has always been one of my favorite people ever.
And congratulations with the mention by Mr. Takei himself!

arthurbreur's picture

I would never have guessed you were a George Takei fan (http://musescore.com/user/3673/scores/36061) Thank you!

Stone Drum's picture

speechless :O

arthurbreur's picture

Thank you, Zachary.

andrewturner3's picture

Nice to see this finished... and congrats on getting the shoutout :)

arthurbreur's picture

Thanks, Andrew!

snaky's picture

I didn't know George Takei before this rag... Fuck me right??
But that was very pleasant to hear!

arthurbreur's picture

Thanks, Felix. And he is a pretty amazing person; the sections in the ragtime piece barely scratch the surface.

RAJ Thum's picture

nice! entertaining rag. RAJ

arthurbreur's picture

Thanks, RAJ!

Pensive's picture

Bravo! I'm glad you eventually finished it!

arthurbreur's picture

Thanks, Albert! I have been agonizing over the last section pretty much since I posted the previous "in progress" version. All of a sudden, the piece (seemingly with a mind of its own) was jumping into a completely different key and direction with no sign of coming back. Unless I was going to continue chromatically rising all the way up through the scale in one section, the section was never going to get back to a spot I could repeat it—and while I'm hardly a stickler for always ending in the same key I start in, I at least was hoping to end the piece with a satisfying (and "comfortable") resolution.

The result is very satisfying to me, though I'm still pondering how I can make the finale take up a full sixteen measures instead of twelve. (And pondering what 4-bar intro I might use!)

arthurbreur's picture

So George Takei saw the piece and tweeted its link last night. I'm honored—and I expect MuseScore.com might just have a little more traffic in the future. ;)

Lennox01's picture

Molto carina,come l' altra Ragtime

arthurbreur's picture

Grazie, Federico!

surfpirate's picture

This is the first time I've ever created an account on a site just so I could leave a comment. Brilliantly fun and creative! Helluva musical tribute. Bravo.

arthurbreur's picture

Thank you very much, Bob! I'm honored and touched that you would go through that effort to let me know that you liked the piece. How goes it with the BN Critters? http://www.bncritters.com

surfpirate's picture

Right back atcha Arthur. Hey .... very pleased to make your acquaintance and thanks for the BN Critters plug. Looking forward to listening to some of your other pieces as well. Perhaps if I decide to add a composer character in my comic strip someday I'll name him Arthur.

EricBK's picture

I love it! Very good!

arthurbreur's picture

Thank you, Eric!

evilpie3's picture

Very entertaining !! Just finished watching star trek when I got on and saw this on the dashboard !

arthurbreur's picture

Thank you!

Billsey's picture

Does anyone remember an episode of Star Trek during which Sulu was all hot and sweaty after Uhura? In my mind I'm seeing *that* visual image of Sulu doing a sort of crazy dance. I really do like the music, too.

arthurbreur's picture

Bill, who could forget how sultry a character Sulu could be? And the famous fencing scene, of course! By the way, I intentionally did not reference Star Trek, musically, as 1) George Takei's acting career includes far more than just that series, and 2) I only felt any reference would end up being trite or distracting. (Though there is a little bit of a "transporter" reference in the Hollywood section!)

MattPribel1's picture

I still like the 3rd section - but, the final one and its drunk harmonies are my favorites.

arthurbreur's picture

Ha ha, "drunk harmonies" describes those melodies (though not Mr. Takei!) very well! Thanks!

Login or register to post comments

Videoscores

See video
18 hours ago
See video
47 weeks ago
See video
51 weeks ago

Info

Uploaded Apr 20, 2013
Pages 6
Duration 3:35
Measures 86
Key signature natural
Parts 1
Part names
  • Acoustic Grand Piano
License All rights reserved
Privacy  Everyone can see this score

Want to make a score like this one?

Download MuseScore for free and share your scores on this site.