Ragtime #2: Solace - an homage to Scott Joplin's Mexican Serenade


About this sheet music

A ragtime homage to Scott Joplin's "Solace - A Mexican Serenade" composed between 1993 and 2009 by Arthur Breur.

The piece was composed in reverse order: the final section (D) was composed first, in the early 1990s. About 15 years later I decided the piece needed to be finished, and started working backwards, trying to give each new section its own unique, memorable personality.

The third section (C) was composed with the word "solace" written into the notes, and with an intentionally Mexican feel. I allowed the syncopation to rest in this section to let the melody have its freedom, but intentionally included the parallel chords used in the (D) section.

The (B) section is the "Fred & Ginger" section—I specifically used two parallel notes to get the feel of two people, dancing together first one direction, then another. I also stretched the 2-note harmonies as far as I felt I could to make the section stand out. The second half of the (B) section is my closest reference to Scott Joplin's Solace, with the melody accompanied by steady notes, though I kept the feel of a duet here as much as possible. This section also provided the opportunity to use sliding harmonies as used by Joplin in the original Solace.

The first section needed to tonally separate the (B) and (C) sections, and, to my mind, needed to include the sliding harmonies to connect to the (B) section. The (A) section also contains reference to my first ragtime, Kiwi Rag. I intentionally pulled the starting chord to C7 to bring the melody one step farther away from the final B-flat key, though still keeping the entire piece as one overall chord progression.

As to why this piece was composed, my sister, Margie, long ago negotiated with me that she got to have one piece that she could play that I would (and therefore COULD) never play. This was because, with my piano training, I could play any piece that I wanted, and she wanted to have a piece that was hers alone. When, years later, she caught me sight reading Solace, she reminded me of this agreement—at which point I thought to myself, "Fine, I'll compose my own." Which brings us back to the (D) section mentioned above. When I created this palendromic melody (the intervals are the same in either direction, up or down) I immediate noticed the Latin feel and decided this was the finale melody for MY Mexican serenade.

Edited May 6, 2013: missing notes added to harmony at end of second section; tie added to first note into second section.

Genre: Contemporary
Format: Composition

Comments (33)

samantha.fouasnon's picture

Do any portions of the piece have a more distinctive 2/4 “feel” in the left hand than other portions? What are the counter numbers?

arthurbreur's picture

Which music class is this question for? Please note that the question probably applies to Scott Joplin's original Solace rather than to my homage, printed here.

trolol3000's picture

Wow. This very nice! I like it very much! I will follow and favorite!

arthurbreur's picture

Thank you, Conner!

iamdyrus's picture

I love your music! I had a few questions regarding Scott Joplin's Solace: A Mexican Serenade. Does the left hand play the standard "boom-chick, boom-chick" sound, accompanying the right hand? And how many sections are in the music till the time 3:03

arthurbreur's picture

I've had almost exactly this question enough times now that I'm pretty sure it is a standard question in a music course somewhere. Considering that the precise time (3:03) has been asked about a piece of music, it could only refer to a fairly specific recording of the piece, as different performers would play the piece at slightly different tempos. Three minutes and three seconds into Scott Joplin's "Solace" would likely be more than midway through the piece, but could still be in different sections. So without reference to the exact recording the second question cannot probably be safely answered. However, the first question can easily be answered just by listening to the piece and paying attention to the left hand: http://lmgtfy.com/?q=scott+joplin+solace

Tristan Wilson's picture

I love this part right here.

arthurbreur's picture

Thank you, Tristan. And I agree: when I came up with that melody, I knew that I'd hit on something good.

arthurbreur's picture

Edited May 6, 2013: missing notes added to harmony at end of second section; tie added to first note into second section.

david.mirth's picture

Very nice :-) I just always feel that it should end an octave higher, but that is just my feeling :-)

arthurbreur's picture

Just the last phrase one octave up? Both hands?

david.mirth's picture

Just the very last chord an octave higher in right hand only...

EricBK's picture

I love this! Good going!

arthurbreur's picture

Thank you very much! I'm just about done with the final section of my (very eclectic) 3rd rag as well!

JayW's picture

Very nice.

arthurbreur's picture

Thank you! This one is due for a video score...

MusicStuden's picture

What's the difference between an 8-bar section and a 16-bar section? And can I see these on a musical score?

arthurbreur's picture

If you look at Kiwi Rag's 2nd or last section, it's clearest: http://musescore.com/user/45359/scores/65726

The 2nd and 4th sections of the rag have an 8-bar section: measures 17-24 51-58, then a repeat. (The other sections include small intros or melodic extensions that make their length longer than 8 bars, but they are shorter than 16 bars each.)

However, in my "Solace" the sections are about twice as long, about 16 measures each: http://musescore.com/user/45359/scores/63652

Most "traditional" ragtime pieces have sections of about 16 measures, give or take, similar to my "Solace".

deeseman's picture

How many sections are in this piece? Also, is there an introduction?

arthurbreur's picture

Both of my first two ragtimes follow the four-section AABBACCDD structure; this one does have an intro. Kiwi Rag ( http://musescore.com/user/45359/scores/65726 ) does not. For "Kiwi Rag" I have used the "Kiwi Theme" ( http://musescore.com/user/45359/scores/78063 ) as an intro, but it is not anything like the usual intro for a rag.

arthurbreur's picture

Kiwi Rag has 8-bar sections whereas Solace is the more traditional 16-bar sections.

deeseman's picture

Ok thanks a lot, if you could give me further detail it would be much appreciated. Can you tell me how many sections it has specifically from 0:00 to 3:03? Also, is there syncopation in this piece, and if so, how prevalent is syncopation in the melody? Sorry I didnt clear this up ealier, the questions I have been asking refer to the original Mexican Serenade by Scott Joplin.

arthurbreur's picture

You're welcome. If you can tell me why you are asking, I can probably give you more helpful answers. Sixteenth-note syncopation is prevalent in sections A, B, and D. Section C has a very slow quarter-note syncopation referenced at the peak of the melody -- pretty much right at 3:03 in the sheet music. So at 3:03, it has reached partway through the second repeat of the C section, and is at about (i)AABBACC in the overall (i)AABBACCDD structure.

GSharpe's picture

I had a fun time playing this piece. It felt more like Super Mario bro's theme than anything else...

arthurbreur's picture

I hadn't heard that before, but I'll take it as a compliment! Thanks!

JSash's picture

Very nice. 'Solace' is one of my favorite works. I had it played at my wedding last August. Your homage is nicely done.

arthurbreur's picture

Thank you. I'm working on my next ragtime and trying, again, to make it as "elegant" as I can, with "Solace" and "Graceful Ghost" being my main inspirations. Though I'm also eager to finish "His Dark Materials" soon.

arthurbreur's picture

I've updated the tempos a bit -- the previous version was a little too fast.

Uymaynjo Þhrmapoljayn's picture

This is amazing! I like this very much!

arthurbreur's picture

I've updated the performance notation a bit and put the tempo closer to how I perform the piece. I don't like to over-instruct a performer, but the notation is necessary to help the MuseScore midi performance sound better.

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Uploaded Sep 17, 2012
Pages 5
Duration 4:16
Measures 93
Key signature 2 flats
Parts 1
Part names
  • Piano
License Attribution, Noncommercial, No Derivatives Works
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