The Rags Thread

Piano, Fortepiano and Harpsichord Music
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Rob C.

Re: The Rags Thread

Post by Rob C. » Mon Aug 31, 2015 1:07 pm

Good Morning, Frank! (well, at least it's morning here EDT),

This is part 2 of my response to your recent postings...

I can't tell you how much I loved the "Bumble Bee Rag" roll! What a rollicking, foot-stomping, FUN piece of ragtime!!! The arranger clearly was skilled at heavy orchestration (it almost sounds like 4 hands, 2 pianos). My ONLY complaint is the omission of some of the repeats :)!

The original of the very copy you posted has been scanned and posted as part of the Templeton Collection at Mississippi State University (which I see you mentioned--my apoligies for forgetting that the first time I wrote this). It was fascinating to see that you have a photocopy of the exact one they posted--the very same chunks are missing from the cover (top center, top far right, and, right edge by the largest bumble bee). Here's the link: http://digital.library.msstate.edu/cdm/ ... 3907/rec/1.

Thanks for drawing our attention to this great piece of ragtime!! We greatly appreciate all you do and your encyclopedic knowledge of ragtime and its history.

Best,

Rob
Last edited by Rob C. on Mon Aug 31, 2015 7:51 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Rob C.

Re: The Rags Thread

Post by Rob C. » Mon Aug 31, 2015 3:46 pm

Orion B. Wilson & Rabe, Richard (Dick) - The Piano Tuner's Walk-A-Way - 1915.pdf
Piano Tuner's Walk-A-Way Rag, The - ex Ranalli.MID
Rabe, Richard (Dick) - Bell of Bells (waltz) - 1915.pdf
Hi Everyone!

This, my third consecutive posting in this thread, is dedicated to my good ragtime friend Luigi Ranalli!! I wanted one posting to include some music, so I'm attaching a rare rag Luigi sent me several years ago called "The Piano Tuner's Walk-A-Way." It's a fine folk rag. What I discovered about these two composers is included in the score's PDF file. I'm also attaching Luigi's midi of this piece and a PDF of a waltz by one of the composers. The waltz is where I stumbled across the other composer's first name (as you'll see). I downloaded this waltz from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee website. However, my PDF includes a short article about the composer, and the copyright data, neither of which is on UWM's website.

My thanks to a librarian at the Indianapolis Public Library, who used his personal subscription to newspapers.com to find this article (which I found a reference to online), then emailed me a copy (what you'll see in the PDF is exactly what he sent me). The page of the newspaper referenced by the website appears to be incorrect, because, when another librarian looked at that issue of "The Indianapolis Star," there were only 44 pages (perhaps the website counted some unnumbered pages, advertisement flyers, for example).

Luigi, since I sent you my research last night I found a couple of typos this morning and tweaked a sentence or two. Then I added your score to the beginning, so you may want to download that PDF from here (the waltz PDF file is the same)

Oh, if anyone has the cover to this piece I'd really enjoy seeing it! A better quality score would be great too (the notes are very dark but some of the ledger lines have disappeared).

Enjoy!

Rob
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fhimpsl
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Re: The Rags Thread

Post by fhimpsl » Sat Sep 05, 2015 5:19 pm

Hi Rob,

Thanks so much for the copyright information on "Belles Of The Blue Grass" and "Nothing Doing." At the time I started scouring the LOC for ragtime back in the 1970s, the main collection in Washington (which was at the old original building then) was largely divided between M31 and M25 categories ("dance and instrumental music" if I remember correctly). There were of course tens of thousands of original scores, but the predominant ragtime holdings of the library were still filed at a separate, long-term storage facility in Landover, Maryland which was not generally accessable. So, many of the undiscovered ragtime gems like the "Belles" were not to be found in Washington. After numerous visits to LOC, I became friends with the head librarian of the music division, Wayne Shirley. Wayne made trips to Landover infrequently, but had the occasion to do so now and then when specific requests were placed. He required transportation, which I was only too happy to oblige. And so I managed to obtain access to the long term storage, where the real ragtime gold was kept (at least back then). The scores at Landover were filed by copyright number in the original order received. This led to many interesting discoveries, some quite humorous in fact. For example, one might find the original Sedalia edition of "Maple Leaf Rag" right underneath a reprint of Mendelssohn's "Spring Song." There was no composer or music type categorization, as scores were simply filed by copyright number in order of receipt. In a typical Landover trip, I would pull easily 500 or more original scores and Wayne and I would transport them back to Washington in the trunk of my old car. The next day I'd run through rolls upon rolls of nickels to copy them all on those abysmal thermal copiers. The original scores ultimately were filed by category (M31 if instrumental ragtime) and composer, and reside in the new LOC library today. Because the trips to Landover were infrequent (3-5 a year at best) it was never possible to survey the entire collection. Hopefully with continued funding the LOC will ultimately be able to digitize the entire collection. It is of course far beyond massive, and even with concerted effort will take many years to complete.

Here is another rag which was issued by Wurlitzer on their automatic harp rolls, in fact from the same roll which contained "Belles Of The Blue Grass." This piece is by Detroit composer Robert J. O'Brien, whose "Rag Picker's Rag" is another great example of folk ragtime (available in one of the Dover ragtime compilations). The score for O'Brien's "Unique Rag" may well also have been published, but I've never encoutered it.

Thanks for your comments, and glad you enjoyed Keithley's "Bumble Bee Rag." The copy of the score I posted was probably the very same score posted in the Templeton collection as I knew Charley well and he allowed me to copy music from his collection. I remember seeing the cover to "Piano Tuner's Walk Away" years ago and vaguely remember it had comic artwork depicting a frustrated piano tuner. Sorry I don't have a copy of it to post.

All Best,

Frank
Unique Rag (Robert J. O'Brien) - WURL Harp 11-6.mid
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Rob C.

Re: The Rags Thread

Post by Rob C. » Sun Sep 06, 2015 3:41 am

HI Frank,

Just a quick note (I'm still not caught up with my replies to you here). Thanks so much for posting this piano roll! It's a favorite rag of mine and I did post the score on Pianophilia in 2012. Check page 25 of this thread and you'll see it there along with my midi of the original score.

More soon,

Rob
Last edited by Rob C. on Mon Sep 28, 2015 2:48 am, edited 1 time in total.

Rob C.

Re: The Rags Thread

Post by Rob C. » Sun Sep 06, 2015 10:39 pm

Hi Frank!

I've been wanting to finish commenting on your recent postings so I'll do that here.

Thanks SO much for posting O'Connor's "Bully Rag"!! I'd never heard of it, so was excited to see and hear it. You were so right, it IS a lot of fun! Thanks for sharing this rarity with us.

As for the other unknown piano rolls... they were all wonderful pieces--my wife really enjoyed them too :). I can't help but hope that copies of these rolls, with the titles intact, still exist somewhere. I'll comment on them below in the order you posted them.

The Cremona A-428-14 sounds very song-like to me and reminds me a little of Henry Lodge. Very nice number.
The Cremona A-428-10 was our favorite! SUCH a cool, awesome rag! What an amazing find!!
The Ramey a-Mod 1-5 was a nice contrast to the previous two. It seems more dramatic. Really, really like it!
The Electrova 44N 429-1 reminded my wife of a rag that should be in a Tom & Jerry cartoon. Wonderful, and such fun!
The NTW Stylel. 2214-5 is the one in a minor key. Nice piece, well worthy of preservation. It doesn't grow old with repeated listenings.
The LINK-SMC 321-4 was the one you wrote was "Fantastic" and we'd have to agree! Definitely our second favorite of the batch! We've always liked Indian motifs and, if I recall correctly, they were popular around 1903-05--thereabouts, so perhaps this rag dates from around that time. The stop time part is phenomenal--a brilliant piece of writing.

If you have any more great unknown's we'd love to hear them!!

Thanks for writing about your trips to the LOC storage facility in the 1970's. You'd mentioned this before, but I always wanted to hear more detail and that wish was satisfied in your latest posting! About 15 years ago I was researching a rag written and copyrighted in Jan. of 1905 by a local composer, and found that he'd copyrighted another instrumental "March and Two-Step" the same day (it did turn out to be another rag!). I called the LOC and was connected to the friendliest, most helpful, person (probably then in his early 20's) I've ever talked to there (I really wish I'd thought to ask his name, because, unfortunately, I was never connected to him again). I'll always remember what he told me: "Sir, if you have the copyright number of that piece I can find it in 5 to 10 minutes. The music's all organized by copyright number. All I have to do is walk over and retrieve it." I gave him the number, waited on the line, and he came back and told me he had it in hand. Then he offered to send me a photocopy (no charge) if I gave him my address. When the envelope arrived I found he'd also sent me a copy of the original piece I was researching--a bonus I hadn't asked for! I was happy to receive that, because the ragtimer who'd kindly sent me a copy had inadvertently cut off the bottom of some low left hand octaves in the final bar. A few years later, when the family of the arranger of the second piece tried to get a color photocopy of the cover, the LOC couldn't find the music! However, when the family sent them a B & W photocopy of the cover the first gentleman had sent to me, they located it.

I've been transcribing Thomas' "Fish Tail Dance." It's not been easy (but well worth the effort). I've done about 30 bars (which is just a little under half of what needs transcribing, as the second half of the roll is pretty much, as far as I can hear, repeats of what's gone before). I've put the score in cut time. It has some difficult rhythms in the bass part (as you can hear). The first strain, which follows the 8 bar introduction, had an interesting, unexpected feature (at least unexpected to me). A 4 note chord is played, then the 2 middle notes are held, while the octave surrounding it is shifted. This gives the octave that follows a rich, full-bodied sound.

I have a great piece to post in "School of Syncopation," the best rarity I've found in a very long time. I'll sign off here and go to the that thread in a few minutes, after I prepare the file.

Best,

Rob

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Re: The Rags Thread

Post by fhimpsl » Mon Sep 07, 2015 2:34 pm

Hi Rob,

Thank you for your feedback, and for sharing the wonderful "Kutemoff Blues" in the Syncopations thread. Upon hearing about your experience with LOC, it sounds like the library has made substantial progress with accessibility to scores, which certainly bodes well for the future. Years ago only the satellite collection at Landover was filed by copyright number, whereas everything in DC was by category first and composer second.

Here are several more examples of nickelodeon roll rags which I haven't been able to identify. Enjoy!

Frank
Unknown Folk Rag - Electrova 44N 1177-4.mid
Unknown Indian Intermezzo (great one) - LINKRX-Mod 1504-15.mid
Unknown Rag - WURL MandPian 770-3.mid
Unknown Rag - WURL MandPian 774-2.mid
Unknown Rag - LINKAMC 283-2.mid
Unknown Rag - Ramey A-Mod 1-2.mid
Unknown Blues-Rag - WURL MandPian 774-1.mid
Unknown Rag (Familiar) - Ramey A-Mod 2-4.mid
Unknown Rag (Familiar) - Ramey A-Mod 2-8.mid
Unknown Rag (Good) - Ramey A-Mod 1-9.mid
Unknown Rag (Good) - Ramey A-Mod 1-10.mid
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Rob C.

Re: The Rags Thread

Post by Rob C. » Tue Sep 08, 2015 12:29 am

Medic Rag - MacDonald.mid
Hi Frank,

Thanks so much for your new batch of unknown rags!! I've been listening to them, and although I haven't finished yet, I had to write, because I've identified one. When I began listening to "Unknown Rag (Familiar) - Ramey A-Mod 2-4," I thought, "I think I know this rag," then when the 2nd strain, my favorite, began playing, I thought, "I know that I know this rag! It's by that physician [mental snapping of fingers]..."

It's "Medic Rag" by the small-town physician, Calvin Lee Woosley (1884-1946). For convenience, I've attached, the late Colin MacDonald's midi of "Medic Rag." About this rag's original score Jasen & Tichenor wrote:

"His most inspired piece and his most commercially successful. It is a memorable, thickly-textured Folk rag in A flat and D flat. The trio contains his most complex use of syncopations, rarely encountered in the scores, but sometimes found in the highly articulate and sophisticated ragtime performances of the Harlem Stride school. This figure [2/4 time bar with 1/8 rest, 1/16 rest, 1/16 note,1/8 rest, 1/16 rest, 1/16 note] is extended over a 4-measure pattern. It is an ingenious touch as Woolsey prepares us for this rhythm by using the more conventional [1/16 rest, 1/16 note, 1/16 rest, 1/16 note, etc] achieving a subtle developmental feeling in the complexity of the rag's syncopation."

Well, at least we've identified ONE of the unknowns. I hope someone else knows another!

BTW, I'm really liking LINKAMC 283-2, especially the opening strain (different introduction though).

More later,

Rob
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Last edited by Rob C. on Mon Sep 28, 2015 2:41 am, edited 1 time in total.

NBello
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Re: The Rags Thread

Post by NBello » Thu Sep 17, 2015 2:10 am

I recognize "Unknown Rag - Ramey A-Mod 1-9." It's Beedle-Um-Bo Slow Drag (1908) by Chas. L. Johnson. "Unknown Folk Rag - Electrova 44N 1177-4" is similar to Hippodrome Rag by Herman Schultz.

All Best,

N

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Re: The Rags Thread

Post by fhimpsl » Fri Sep 25, 2015 6:14 pm

Hi Rob,

Congratulations on solving one of the mystery rag titles! I have played this piece many times in the past and certainly know of Calvin Lee Woolsey. I believe he became a country doctor in his home town of Braymer, MO (if memory serves), and the rags such as "Medic" and "Funny Bones" were written during his days in medical school.

There is a link between the old Missouri country doctors and ragtime. Trebor Tichenor's father was a medical doctor who practiced in Sappington, MO. I was fortunate enough to meet "Doc" Tichenor and Trebor's mother as well, who was an accomplished musician and played in a jazz band in her youth. Doc Tichenor was friends with another local physician, Dr. Hubert S. Pruett. "Doc Pruett," as we called him, was one of the earliest collectors and students of Missouri ragtime. He started collecting piano rolls in the 1930s. Trebor told me stories of how he would drive around early mornings and pick up 65-note ragtime rolls that were put out for garbage pick-up. In the earliest days he would only save tunes composed by Joplin, Scott and Lamb, and left the others behind. He had an upright Marshall & Wendall Ampico player piano converted to play 65- and 88-note rolls. Doc Pruett fostered Trebor's boyhood interest in ragtime. In the early 1960s Trebor purchased his player piano and roll collection. I will always fondly associate the great early cakewalks such as "Beautiful Creole" with the memory of hearing them together with Trebor and his family during those great days in St. Louis.

Sadly I never discussed Calvin Lee Woolsey with Trebor. It's very likely that at some point he made contact with the family, for his sheet music collection contained the rare pieces Woolsey published himself such as "Lover's Lane Glide," and a number of songs.

The unknown rag on LINKAMC 283-2 is very familiar, but I have never been able to identify it. Perhaps it only seems familiar, for the first strain is a bit similar to first in Les Copeland's "Dockstader Rag." The unknown rag is likely earlier.

All Best,

Frank

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Re: The Rags Thread

Post by NBello » Fri Sep 25, 2015 8:05 pm

Les Copland's performances are usually different from the sheet music arrangements. "Dockstader Rag" is interesting because there's an additional section not present in the score that was published as part of Copland's "42nd Street Rag." There are at least three different versions I know of: I think the Aeolian Uni-record version has far too many rhythmic deficiencies to be a hand-played performance.

I've attached my transcription as played by Adam Swanson (with additional last section).
Dockstader Rag.pdf
N
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