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

Apr 19, 2018

 
Of possible interest to recently joined members or viewers. Edited text of previous entries by a former Group contributor. (Thank you, Google 'Cache' !) 
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• 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!]
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• 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).
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• 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 ...
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 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:
https://www.amazon.com/Harmony-pianoforte-study-book-individual-student/dp/B0066VJ8CS

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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