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Ragtime #3: George Takei Rag


Uploaded on Apr 20, 2013

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.

piano rag ragtime original composition Piano Solo original composition Rag time compositions american composers George Takei original compositions contemporary composers Portland composer ragtime composer

Pages 6
Duration 3:35
Measures 86
Key signature natural
Parts 1
Part names Piano
Privacy Everyone can see this score
License None (All rights reserved)
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Comments

You and asheboy to be honest is my two favorite composers in musescore! I love to listen to your soundcloud music and unlike any other musescore music i appreciate the beautiful structure of the music whilee i am reading or studying. My favorite piece :"love too early"

Awesome! I always loved rag ever since I was a boy. This piece is a magnificent work!!!!! Love measure 22-25 a lot!

In reply to by François Rousset

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!

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...

In reply to by easily

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!

In reply to by Sepehr Keyhani

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.

In reply to by arthurbreur

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).

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.

In reply to by Second_Rachmaninov

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! ;)

In reply to by Sepehr Keyhani

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.

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.

In reply to by johnbarto

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.

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

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

In reply to by Pensive

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!)

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. ;)

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.