On Endings

Sep 3, 2016

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?


I often hum and/or improvise endings until one sticks. I'll note that I tend to compose rags by coming up with an overarching theme, then one of the strains (usually the first strain, but occasionally the first strain of the trio), then the structure (including which strains are in what keys), then figure out the rest of the strains. I often compose the remaining strains in order, so I may compose a strain ending before I come up with the next strain (but knowing which key I need to change to or stay in).

Occasionally, I have to revise strain endings.

I often put strong cadences (usually V-I) in my strain endings, which helps me improvise and write them.

What John-of-Lewes suggests (with "Likewise, the 1st-time ending of B can often be made very similar to the 2nd-time ending of A") makes even more sense when you consider that many rags sound like they should have pickup bars for their strains (such as Joplin's Elite Syncopations).

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