Who doesn't love ragtime music? When I discovered the MIDI world, ragtime was the first stuff I went after. I found a treasure out there, and wouldn't presume to add to it lightly, since most of the ragtime MIDI files are created by professional musicians, who can actually play the songs themselves. With their hands! Only in my dreams!

However, determined to exercise my sequencing abilities (which consist of reading music and clicking the mouse to move the song from paper to the computer), I went and purchased a big book of Scott Joplin rags. I was disappointed, though, when I got home and found that every single tune in the book was already in my collection of MIDI files I had downloaded. All except the two true songs (that is, those with voice parts) in the book. So, taking what I could get, I created the MIDI file for "Please Say You Will" and I think that for a first transcription, it didn't turn out half bad. I hope you enjoy it.

The second song from the Joplin book is a lament for a departed sweetheart, "(A) Picture of Her Face." For this song, I decided to put both the left- and right-hand piano parts onto one track rather than two, mostly to save time. Though this means each part cannot be individually tuned (for volume, balance, etc.), the parts are easy enough to separate if I ever want to do so. By doing it this way, though, I feel like I learned yet a little more about composition. On top of that, I felt I had made some noticeable progress in my talent re-teaching myself to read music quickly and in using the MIDI sequencing software. I'm not dangerous yet, but I'm getting better.

My next trip to the music store, I determined to look for some rags by Eubie Blake. Though I knew of Blake, I really started to like him when I downloaded and heard a couple of his rags. I hoped there were more for me to transcribe, and my hopes were realized. The first of these is "Troublesome Ivories." It's all in one track, because I was being lazy, but it'll do fine until I get more time.

Another classical rag by Blake is "Tricky Fingers." This rag was written in 1907 or 1909, long before music historians believed that such a jazzy rag could have been written.

The third Blake piece is a modern rag (written in 1942). "Dictys on 7th Avenue" makes the decade of its origin apparent when you listen to it. It's obviously from the WWII period; you can almost hear the Andrews Sisters warming up in the wings.

"Pork And Beans" is a 1913 rag by "Luckey" Roberts. It was included in the book from which I transcribed the Blake rags listed above. It moves along nicely and is a real good example of ragtime syncopation.

"The Junk Man Rag" is another "Luckey" Roberts rag. I transcribed this one pretty quickly (for me) so I guess I'm getting faster at this! I also transcribed the Roberts rags after my own first attempt at ragtime composition (see my "Opus 2"), and -- despite Mr. Roberts being a composer by trade -- I am even more convinced than ever that I can, with practice, do a passable job of composing ragtime music.

"The Music Box Rag" is a third rag by Roberts. Another relatively quick one to transcribe, the basic form of a rag is pretty formulaic when you get right down to it, and I am inspired all the more that my own compositions might turn out to be at least half decent.

"Castle House Rag" was written by James Reese Europe in 1914. It was also included in the book I picked up mostly for the Eubie Blake rags. You can certainly tell that this piece was composed by a different man altogether than all those above. To me, it seems oddly "minor," especially for a piece mostly in C major.