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Friday, April 21, 2017

Piano Diary: My First Rag


 I doubt that I will ever play it this well.

One of the things I decided when I began playing the piano again was that I would explore different kinds of music outside of the usual classical music repertoire for amateur piano players. I have learned a bit of boogie-woogie and some blues stuff. The Santa Lucia Rag arranged by Martha Mier has been my first attempt at a piece in ragtime, or a rag as they are called. Syncopated rhythm is completely alien to me so this has been something of a struggle.

It has been a real pleasure to become acquainted with Martha Mier through her music. She is very well-known among folks who are learning the piano as she has dedicated her life to education and composition in this field. This great little arrangement can be found in her book Classical Jazz, Rags & Blues 2.

My initial work on this song has been like chipping away at a huge piece of granite (but much harder than granite!) with a very small hammer (and my hammer seems to have been made out of cork) trying to make a sculpture. Somewhere inside of that chunk of rock lies the song. After two days of work there is almost no indication of music apparent in what I am pounding out. I think that I may have been born without whatever organ is responsible for rhythm and timing. I felt so clumsy when I first began on this piece that I nearly fell off my bench. At this point in the struggle I can’t be sure if there will be any survivors.

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