Rag-Sextet
For Piano and Woodwind Quintet (1972 rev. 2014)
by Ron Hannah

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Duration: about 12 minutes

    To be perfectly honest, this piece owes as much to boogie-woogie piano music as it does to ragtime, but "rag-sextet" rolls off the tongue more easily. I have lately been looking at some of my start-out pieces and finding some very worthwhile stuff in them. Sure, this is an early work, but for all that it is good, full of vigour, and it reflects my continuing interest in ragtime and boogie-woogie, and my admiration for Scott Joplin, Albert Ammons and others.

    As occasionally happens, it contains a theme in the 1st movement that arrived unexpectedly one day as I was having coffee with

    


 



an attractive female friend in the University cafeteria. In mid-sentence I was suddenly seized with this idea. I stopped talking, got up, and left without a word, such is the selfish inner life of the artist. In the library this wonderful (I thought) ragtime melody poured forth. Later I met her and apologized, then went on to develop the idea into my first movement, which even contains a rag fugato section. A jazzy fugue is not a new idea. Stravinsky toyed with the idea and so did Milhaud in his "Création du Monde".

     The second movement is the most abstract of the three, somewhat more serious and a little sinister perhaps, and is written for the woodwinds alone. I was learning my craft and yes, as it turns out I can write effectively for them! The third movement returns to a bouncy, and virtuosic, rag giving the pianist a full say in the matter once again, and switching easily into a boogie bass that steps away from strict tonality from time to time, then back again.

     You can download the full score at left, and hear Logic Pro versions of the entire piece. That program produces fairly convincing instrumental sounds that should give potential performers a good idea of the overall effect.

     A group read it one time and it's great fun, however it still awaits an enthusiastic public performance (actually, several people over the years have inquired about Rag-Sextet, and even obtained the score and parts, however they have never informed me about whether they actually performed the piece). If you are one of those players returning to my website, please let me know so I can update my Performances page. If you are new here and would like the instrumental parts, they may be obtained from the Canadian Music Centre, or by sending me an email (below).


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