Alien Briar Rag
Uploaded on Sep 2, 2016
The "alien" in this rag's name refers to its plethora of strange chord progressions, and the "briar" is actually a disguised reference to Tom Brier, who is fond of such strange chord progressions himself in his "Parallelograms", "Rhythmodik", "Elephant Tracks", and no doubt other rags. On the other hand, perhaps this rag does remind you of a strangely branching, alien bush...
Right off the bat, this rag starts with two major chords with tonics a tritone apart, which really throws a wrench into figuring out which key this rag is in. Turns out that those were just bII (Neapolitan)-V of A minor, but the strange chord progressions don't stop there!
Other weird chord progressions in this rag include German augmented 6th-V-German augmented 6th-V, diminished 7th chords resolving into each other (followed by a German augmented 6th), sequences of major chords with tonics a whole tone or a semitone apart, a sequence of minor chords with tonics a whole tone apart, and E augmented-Esus4-E major.
Heck, in Bar 12, the left hand and right hand ignore each other entirely harmony-wise!
Even the closing chords join in on the strange chord progression fun--the second last chord blends together a dominant chord (including its distinctive leading tone) and the striking bII of the Neapolitan.
The A minor-F major-A major-C# diminished 7th-B flat major-D minor-B major-D# diminished 7th chord progression in Bars 29-30 sounds a lot like Schumann to me for some reason.
Thank goodness this rag is in A minor or the accidentals would be nightmarish...
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