Aaron Copland: "The Creative Mind and the Interpretative Mind" (from Harvard lectures, 1951-52)

Copland (1900-1990) - known as the 'Dean of American Composers' - both taught and wrote-about Composition in a very accessible way; and I'm currently reading a secondhand copy of his book 'Music and Imagination', first published in 1952. 
Chapter Three of this work, available online here: https://colloquydowneast.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/Copland-The-CreativeInterpretative-Mind-2.pdf is truly fascinating for its detailed commentary on aspects of 'tradecraft' - especially the section on 'The creative mind' from the middle of page 45, also concerning young composers.
Even the four or five most intuitive people in this Group ["you know who you are!"] - who have little need of philosophical advice from anyone (!) - might also find Copland's general ideas validating, supportive, even reassuring ;-) ...

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15 days ago

The "art-canons" of Ragtime (from 'Etude' magazine, June 1899) ...

Controversy regarding "artistic integrity" in popular Music is nothing new! But here is a surprisingly 'early' scholarly article from 1899, giving conditional acceptance to the better class of Ragtime - and offering advice to Composers that seems just as pertinent to-day [the language is of its time, where 'he' is not specific; and I have abridged a little]:

"A Ragtime piece, to be clever, witty, piquant, amusing, must have thoughts which find their appropriate, best expression through Syncopation. The art-canons, of universal relevance, which should govern the musician when he is composing Ragtime pieces are that:
(1) he should 'know' what his music is to express; and
(2) he should 'believe' that what his music is to express, can be 'best' expressed by the use of Ragtime.
'If he is governed by these principles, his Ragtime music will be truly aesthetic.' If not, his ...work... might become instances of ... tonal stupidity, or be considered ethically as tonal viciousness - the attempt to make music attractive at the expense of the Truth."

Attempt at Italian translation (apologies Luca ! - I cannot type accents here):
"Una composizione Ragtime, per essere intelligente, spiritosa, piccante, divertente, deve avere pensieri che trovino appropriata, la migliore espressione attraverso la sincopazione. I canone artistici, di applicazione universale, che dovrebbero governare il musicista quando sta componendo musica Ragtime, sono che,
(1) dovrebbe 'sapere' che cosa deve esprimere la sua musica;
(2) dovrebbe 'credere' che cio che la sua musica deve esprimere puo essere meglio espresso dall'uso del Ragtime.
'Se e governato da questi canoni, la sua musica Ragtime sara davvero estetica.' Altrimento, il suo lavoro puo diventare un esempio di stupidita tonale, o apparire eticamente come violenza tonale - il tentivo di rendere la musica attraente a scapito della Verita."

Original article as quoted in 'Jazz in Print', Karl Koenig, 2002, can be found on Google Books by searching for [jazz in print ragtime etude 1899] and reading from Page 51].

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20 days ago

Message from the administrator.

Hello everybody!
I'm Luca Allegranza, a young Italian composer and student of music, founder and administrator of this group. I have been absent for a long time from this community for both school and musical commitments: this year my first album was recorded and released with my original ragtime compositions. I'm very happy with the discreet popularity that this group has achieved, with over 200 scores. I also noticed several open discussions to which I unfortunately didn't participate, and for this I apologize to all members. I will try to increase my activity in this group as much as possible.
Greetings and "good ragtime" to everyone!

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2 months ago

One of my ragtimes

Hey guys, I just recently joined this group, and composed a ragtime called the ‘Red Shirt Rag.’ Any critique is acceptable and encouraged, but please don't swear. Thanks :)

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4 months ago

[Re-upload] Ragtime Composition study material - helpful books etc.

Of possible interest to recently joined members or viewers. Edited text of previous entries by a former Group contributor. (Thank you, Google 'Cache' !) 
• Mar 20, 2016: Useful resources to assist Ragtime Composition ...
... " Many of us who love this genre end up working on our own, having to teach ourselves the finer points because there are so few truly relevant books or guides 'out there' ... As we all discover, neither a Classical nor a Jazz approach by itself holds all the keys to Ragtime. I searched all around the Net for tips ... but the thing that really helped me the most was a couple of essays about Ragtime that were written back in the 1950s by Guy Waterman. I found these reprinted in a book called 'Ragtime - its History, Composers and Music', edited by John Edward Hasse, library reference ISBN 0-333-40516-1. Also there are four excellent chapters covering 'Parlour Music and Ragtime' in a book called 'Origins of the Popular Style' by Peter Van Der Merwe - ISBN 0-19-816305-3. Looking at late C19th and early C20th 'music-hall' song scores can also be very helpful - I have a printed album called '60 Old-Time Variety Songs' (published in 1977 by EMI Music, ISBN 0-86175-008-X). This shows a lot of the stylistic devices of that period which can also be put into the Left Hand of a Rag arrangement. Finally, if you can read and play older type MIDI files successfully, I strongly recommend viewing the three or four excellent 'tribute' Rags composed by Gary L Davis in the style of Joplin, Scott and Lamb - see 'Gary's Ragtime MIDI Page' [now archived on http://www.oocities.org/garizona/index.html
. Beware possible malicious links on associated pages!]
• Jan 25, 2017 (addition): "The Jason Martineau Book". 
Not specifically about Ragtime, but really useful 'general reading' : I also strongly recommend "The Elements of Music, Melody, Rhythm & Harmony" by modern composer Jason Martineau. It's not a traditional 'textbook' - and certainly not just for beginners - but it uses lots of original symbols and diagrams to illustrate and visualise important details about how Music actually 'works'. If you are the type of personality who thinks about abstract concepts 'in pictures' (often the case with science and engineering folks) then you'll certainly warm to his explanations!
Book reference numbers: ISBN UK 1-904263-72-0; US 0-802716-82-2 and available online at http://woodenbooks.com/browse/elements-of-music/index.php
(it may also be downloadable from 'other sources' if you look carefully).
• Jul 28, 2017: "Sketching at the Keyboard" by Laura Campbell ...
It's sometimes claimed that 'masculine' Composition starts with chord-progression schemes; and that 'feminine' Composition starts with Melody seeking chordal accompaniment. I'd generally prefer not to take sides in this argument ! - but this book, written in the 1980s and subtitled 'Harmonisation by Ear for Students of All Ages' cuts right across much 'traditional' Harmony theory; and demands that you use your ear above all, with particular attention to the Harmonic Series. I can't help but warm to a teacher who writes: "Students are inclined to confuse issues of 'ease' and 'difficulty' with value-judgements, owing to the emphasis placed in training on learning to do increasingly 'difficult' things. Composers of integrity do not think in that way. What is 'good' is whatever expresses what the composer wants to convey: not an abstract 'right', but the right thing in the right place, namely 'relevance to context'. So what is 'clever' may sometimes be so simple that it never occurred to those with more ambition than imagination!"
Like other good books, this one bridges the gap between so-called 'Classical' and 'Popular' music-theory. A really useful read for anyone who wants 'practical' understanding of all those 'rules' about parallel 5ths and Octaves; Modes and Keys.
ISBN 0 85249 605 2; available secondhand from the usual sources ...
 Nov 5, 2017: "Harmony in Pianoforte-study: a book for the individual student" by Ernest Fowles (1918)
I've always been curious to know more about the way early-C20th musicians in the 'popular' genre learned Harmony, outside of the then-traditional (maybe still-traditional?) 'Classical' Harmony teaching methods involving part-writing "rules" - hundreds of them, it often seems ! To date, the best examples of older 'popular' Harmony tutors I could find were the venerable Percy A Scholes' "The Beginner's Guide to Harmony" published in 1924, together with the series of 3 booklets by Alec Rowley & Raymond Tobin "Harmonisation at the Piano" published in 1937... Just recently I've discovered an older and more comprehensive title (as above), which has become available as a digitised re-print from the usual online sources:

Its subject-headings are those you might expect in any harmony-book; but with a most refreshing approach to the practical distinctions between vocal (choral) music and piano music, for instance: "Note 18. - The student whose harmonic knowledge has been restricted to vocal part-writing will here be inclined to permit any power he may have gained to dominate his presentation of chords upon the pianoforte. When writing for voices, it is not only indispensable that the parts should be clearly individualised, but that the movement of each part should be perceptible to the ear. On the other hand, when writing for, or expressing harmonic progressions upon, the pianoforte, it is the effect of the chord 'in the mass' which usually counts; and no restriction may be held to exist as regards the movement and treatment of the various members of each chord save those which are imposed by good sense and musicianly effect." Hear, Hear! , I say - and if this subject interests you too, go order your copy now ! Original cost, one dollar; Paperback reprint today - 10 dollars. "

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5 months ago

Great study-value available from 'Quality' transcriptions of period scores ...

Dedicated and conscientious Musescorians - the sort who 'care where the notes go' ;-) - have been making more and more previously neglected Ragtime-related scores (in both 'Classic' and 'Popular' genres) accessible for all of us to hear and play. If you don't know them already, some of the best and most prolific Transcribers on here include:
James Brigham: https://musescore.com/james_brigham
Œnanthic: https://musescore.com/c9h18o2
Trampeltier: https://musescore.com/trampeltier
Vontilzer: https://musescore.com/user/3224
- and no time spent viewing any of their 'Public Domain' labours is ever wasted :-) !
Classically-minded persons sometimes disdain the typical early-C20th 'commercial' piano-arrangement style. Nevertheless, this often achieves real harmonic and melodic subtlety without making excessive demands on the performance abilities of 'amateur' players - for whom it was chiefly intended. Theory aside, there's considerable merit for all of us today in observing - essentially 'by ear' - just how successfully those old-time 'popular' arrangers maintained an underlying sense of Key, while artfully introducing ('without' perceived discord!) as many notes of the Chromatic scale as they pleased ;-) ...

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5 months ago

Theo A. Metz

I recently discovered that Theo A. Metz, composer of the classic "There'll Be a Hot Time in the Old Town Tonight," is surprisingly little known outside of his one major hit. In fact, I couldn't even find a good list of his compositions anywhere online. I searched various sites for an hour or two and eventually managed to compile a (mostly) complete list of works, which, since I have nowhere else to post it, and since he was a ragtime composer, I'm going to put here.

List of Works by Theo A. Metz (with links to available music)

Get Your Lamps Lit! (1895) (Available from the Lester S. Levy Sheet Music Collection at Johns Hopkins University: http://levysheetmusic.mse.jhu.edu/collection/061/028a )

Sweeter Than the Rest (1895) (Unavailable as far as I know, but was sold on Amazon recently)

A Hot Time in the Old Town (1896) (Available everywhere -- link here from the Charles Templeton Sheet Music Collection at Mississippi State University: http://digital.library.msstate.edu/cdm/ref/collection/SheetMusic/id/26037 )

My Love For You Is True (n.d.) (Unavailable; only mentioned on the cover of “Do Your Honey Do,” existence unverified)

Do Your Honey Do (1897) (Johns Hopkins: http://levysheetmusic.mse.jhu.edu/collection/140/109 )

The Klondike March of the Gold Miners (1897) (Johns Hopkins: http://levysheetmusic.mse.jhu.edu/collection/177/058 )

Walk Baby Walk (1897) (Sheet music unavailable, but RagtimeDorianHenry made a video of it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qJwjgAeEJxM )

Give Cinda the Cake (1898) (Instrumental version from Johns Hopkins: http://levysheetmusic.mse.jhu.edu/collection/170/169 ; song version from New York Public Library: https://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/510d47e0-c0a3-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99 )

A Hot Coon From Klondike (1898) (Not online, but available in print from the E. Azalia Hackley Memorial Collection of the Detroit Public Library)

The Song They Sang at Santiago (1898) (Johns Hopkins: http://levysheetmusic.mse.jhu.edu/collection/086/096 )

A Warm Baby (n.d.) (Unavailable, but mentioned on the cover of "Fiddling Silas," as well as online in several places)

Fiddling Silas (1899) (Not currently available [sold on Ebay recently], but RagtimeDorianHenry made a video of it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VswgW6KH2Iw )

A Hot Meeting [erroneously called “A Meeting Hot” by many sources] (1900) (Unavailable, but RagtimeDorianHenry made a video of it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YQuUTU8v7Gs )

Indian Smoke Dance (1919) (Available in print from the Dorothy Hansen Collection of the Booth Library at Eastern Illinois University; sold on Ebay recently; incipit printed in Across the Hot Sands by George L. Cobb [Maine Music Box]: https://digitalcommons.library.umaine.edu/mmb-ps/1496/ )

Those are all the compositions I could find by him, but if anyone discovers any more, please let me know.

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6 months ago

Ave Atque Vale ...

Former uploader 'John-of-Lewes' thanks all his friends and correspondents most warmly for their much-valued engagement and stimulation during the past two years; although now - after long thought and with many regrets - he has finally pressed the Delete bar and 'escaped' - at least for the present ;-). Good wishes to you all - I shall still be watching you ! - and Long Live Ragtime. Luca, il più grande compositore, le tue opere vivranno per sempre! :-) .

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7 months ago

"New" Group -- Genesis Games Music Team

Hello everyone,

It seems I'm now advertising another new group. (Well, technically, the group I'm about to advertise isn't "new," but nobody besides me has joined it yet at the time of this writing.) The Musescorer Enochulous has made a group called "Genesis Games Music Team" (link here: https://musescore.com/groups/1892176) and is looking for composers and/or other music department members to help him create and share music for some games he is planning on making. (As far as I can tell, right now he's working on one called ZeroBlade Run.) If you're interested in composing for a video game, I recommend you check it out.

Thanks for taking the time to read this,

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a year ago

Rag Tales album

My new album "Rag Tales" is out now. You can find it on Spotify, ITunes, Apple Music, and Google Play among others. I got started right here on Musescore when I was invited to the ragtime players group. Please check it out. I think you will enjoy it. Thank you friends. Just search for " CJ Brandt" or "Rag Tales". Thanks again

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a year ago

The State of Ragtime Today

I don't have any long spiel to put here (at least not yet); sorry to disappoint you! But in light of the vibrant activity of this community lately—thanks in no small part to the prodigious output of our Italian friend, Luca, over the past year—I think it would be perfectly appropriate to discuss our thoughts on ragtime as it stands today; the composers, performers, venues it inhabits, and much more.

In italiano:
Non ho alcun lungo discorso per mettere qui (almeno non ancora); dispiace deludervi! Ma alla luce delle attività vibrante della community ultimamente—grazie in non piccola parte alla prodigiosa produzione del nostro amico italiano, Luca, nel corso dell'ultimo anno—penso che sarebbe perfettamente adeguato per discutere i nostri pensieri su ragtime così com'è oggi ; i compositori, esecutori, luoghi di essa è stata eseguita in, e molto altro ancora.

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a year ago


Ciao a tutti. Scrivo nella mia lingua madre perché mi è più facile esporre. Mi scuso per questo.
Allora, innanzitutto sono veramente felice che questo gruppo sia diventato quello che è adesso. Ho notato che è diventato un posto dove tanti musicisti amatoriali di ragtime si confrontano ed espongono tutte le loro idee. Ed è questo che volevo, quindi grazie mille!
Io vengo da un paese la cui cultura è completamente diversa da quella americana. E per me, italiano, è stato difficile approcciare col ragtime, ma ho insistito nel suo perché lo sentivo come un genere musicale attualissimo ma genere ormai dimenticato (soprattutto fuori dagli US) ed anche un genere da rivalutare e da far conoscere anche fuori dagli US, anche in Italia; un obbiettivo difficile, quasi inarrivabile!
Volevo anche far capire perché io non partecipo mai a discussioni e rispondo raramente: la lingua! Io l'inglese lo parlo e lo scrivo male. Io vorrei commentare e dare la mia opinione ovunque, ma la maggior parte delle volte ne sono impossibilitato. Però io guardo sempre e costantemente le nuove partiture pubblicate, anche se il mio commento spesso si limita a "Very nice!" o poco più. Io mi scuso per questo, ma spero possiate capirmi. E lo so che sarà difficile (quasi impossibile) tradurre ciò che ho scritto, ma è lo stesso che accade a me. Spero che in qualche modo la maggior parte dei componenti del gruppo colga ciò che ho scritto e apprezzerei un commento da molti di voi.
Con questo vi saluto e sappiate che sarò sempre attivo nel gruppo e che se dovrò dare consigli o critiche, d'ora in poi, scriverò in italiano. Buon proseguimento con il ragtime!


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2 years ago

On Endings

Hello, fellow raggers. As you'd imagine, I'm quite fond of rags, and intend to write many more than just what I've already done. However, something I'm having trouble with is writing endings to each strain. Ideally, since I always have two separate endings for each strain, the first should lead back to the beginning and the second into the next part...but I have trouble actually putting that into practice consistently. What are some of your strategies for capping off your sections?

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2 years ago