The Blue Jay and the Squirrel (1902)

1 part4 pages02:393 days ago34 views
Here's another one of Johnson's rarer pieces. I don't have too much to say about it, except that it received much more than its fair share of typesetting errors during publication.

'Tis The Season!

1 part4 pages03:053 days ago107 views
I absolutely love snow. I made this (Pickles and Peppers style) piece to express how picturesque snow really is, and to start celebrating Christmas a little earlier this year. The B strain is kinda rough, but it is a lot better than it was before. Enjoy!

Bohemia (1919)

1 part2 pages03:07a month ago87 views
It seems I may have spoken prematurely when I said the Patricia Rag was difficult to engrave; this one was much harder. It also seems I was wrong when I said that Ragtime Nightingale was Lamb's only foray into minor keys. Anyway, with this piece, my transcriptions of Lamb's rags must come to an end for now, since the rest of his pieces are protected under the newer life+70 copyright law and will remain so protected until 2030.

A Black Smoke (1902)

1 part4 pages03:314 days ago39 views
The final one of Johnson's few rags that predate "Dill Pickles," this piece follows an unusual structure -- it lacks a trio -- and incorporates several folk motifs and phrases from the Missouri region, or so I've been told. There are theories going around that say it's supposed to represent a train, especially given some of its more exaggerated rhythmic elements (perhaps most visible in the "C strain" at measure 52). Whatever it is, it's remarkably good for such an early rag by a composer near the beginning of his career.

With Fire and Sword (1901)

1 part4 pages03:556 days ago33 views
"With Fire and Sword" is Johnson's only published piece from 1901, perhaps for the reason that he switched publishers around that time -- this was in fact the first composition he sent in to his new publisher, Carl Hoffman. My only guess as to the title's meaning is that it was intended to be a jab at the violent tactics used by many British suffragettes in order to get the vote (the cover being an image of a cavalrywoman holding out a sword). The only problem with that interpretation is that the movement didn't really start until 1903, discounting that as a likely possibility.

A Tally-Ho Party (1900)

1 part4 pages03:147 days ago53 views
Wikipedia informs me that, besides being used as an interjection, the phrase "tally-ho" came to refer to any horse-drawn coach capable of fast movement during the 19th century. The original cover of this piece accordingly depicts exactly that -- a coach, that is -- and the "lyrics" to the trio imply that the piece is intended to represent a group of young men going out for a nighttime excursion. While Johnson released a large number of pieces in 1899, putting out six instrumentals alone, this was the only piece of any kind he released in 1900, besides a single song.

Hester on Parade (1899)

1 part3 pages03:178 days ago40 views
Although many sources consider this piece a "march" first and foremost, it seems to me much more like a cakewalk (and the composer even indicates as such). Because of its scarcity and questionable status as a "true rag," it tends to get left off of lists of Johnson's ragtime compositions (e.g. neither Ted Tjaden nor Bill Edwards identify it as one), and I haven't been able to find out much about it. (As a final note, the original cover mentions that this piece is a "20th Century March"; whether this has any special significance or was just intended to capitalize on the turn of the century is something I haven't been able to discover.)

Warwick Club March (1898)

1 part4 pages02:348 days ago37 views
I recently bought the book "Rags and Other Riches" in order to track down most of the remaining Charles L. Johnson pieces for which I had no source. This is the first of those pieces. I'm glad it was in the book, because it's a semi-rare example of a 6/8 march from a ragtime composer (although Johnson would later compose one more, "The Blue Jay and the Squirrel") and seems to be otherwise nonexistent online.

Swamptown Shuffle (1902)

1 part3 pages02:208 days ago68 views
I think I've found a new hobby! Transcribing ragtime is a fun occupier of my time for when I've got nothing else to do. I might beg for a Pro account for Christmas, but until now this is probably the only one going up.

Doc Brown's Cake Walk (1899)

1 part4 pages02:4410 days ago53 views
Here's Charles L. Johnson's other rag from 1899. Supposedly the name "Doc Brown" corresponded to a well-known person in the Kansas City area, but I haven't been able to find any information about who they were. On a mostly unrelated note, Johnson somehow managed, through a publishing contact, to get this piece played by the Sousa Band, rapidly popularizing it and setting in motion his rise to musical prominence.

Scandalous Thompson (1899)

1 part4 pages03:3611 days ago45 views
Now we're getting to the good stuff... Although Charles L. Johnson had been a composer since 1895 (when he published "Wayside Willie's March"), he didn't compose any ragtime pieces until 1899, this being the very composition that marked his entry into the genre. In the original score, there is an explanation given for the "inappropriate" title, which essentially boils down to there having been a football player named Thompson who received the nickname "Scandalous" because the African-Americans in attendance at his games always used it to describe his plays.

Rags From Jupiter

1 part1 page01:5715 days ago38 views
Take a jaunt through the Jupiter system - Calm Callisto, temperamental Io, magnetic Ganymede, and watery Europa. And all the while, there is the presence of Jupiter!

You've Got a Friend In Me

18 parts9 pages01:5524 days ago131 views
Flute, Clarinet(2), Alto Saxophone, French Horn, Trumpet(2), Trombone(2), Tuba(2), Guitar, Piano, Percussion, Violin, Viola, Cello, Bass

Fin-de-Siècle Rag

1 part5 pages03:4227 days ago102 views
After undergoing a creative drought lasting around a month, I was suddenly struck several days ago with the idea for this piece. As with the Hoosac Tunnel Rag, I can trace where some of the themes and motives come from -- for example, the cadences at the end of every strain were inspired by a similar cadence ending the second strain of the Medic Rag, and the rhythm in the trio is "very similar" to that of Excelsior. It seems that transcribing authentic ragtime works has a beneficial effect on the quality of any attempted ragtime composition; transcribers and prospective composers of all genres, take note.

Give Cinda the Cake (1898)

1 part4 pages0529 days ago48 views
This is the last of Metz's instrumental pieces that I could locate, and it unfortunately shows little improvement over his other two. I'm beginning to think maybe he just got lucky with his one major hit... Nonetheless, I have to upload this in order to finish off what I started.

The Ghost of the Ukulele (1916)

2 parts2 pages04:4830 days ago111 views
Voice, Piano
Just when I thought there could only be two "The Ghost of..." pieces (technically three, counting "The Ghost of the Piano"), I was proven wrong by the existence of this song, which is possibly based on one of the strangest combinations of novelty themes I've ever seen. I really wonder what compelled Brockman and Smith to combine the Hawaiian craze and Spiritualism... (Granted, both of those things were in full swing in 1916.) The result is certainly interesting, and it doesn't fall into the sort of hack work I expected at first from such a novelty-oriented piece.

The Cantina Band Rag

19 parts14 pages01:4030 days ago105 views
Flute, Clarinet(2), Alto Saxophone, French Horn, Trumpet(2), Trombone(2), Tuba(2), Percussion, Guitar, Piano, Violin(2), Viola, Cello, Bass

The Ghost of the Violin (1912)

2 parts4 pages03:08a month ago114 views
Voice, Piano
Here's another 1912 song in E minor about a music-related ghost. (The fact that there are two of those is very interesting.) I dare say this song is even catchier that "The Ghost of a Rag," although there's only one way to find out for yourself!