March 7, 2009

Moving Ragtime into the 21st century

Posted in Music tagged , at 3:07 am by mknight1130

One of my favorite types of music, is rag time. I learned to play the piano specifically to play Scott Joplin’s  Maple Leaf Rag. I then graduated to the Entertainer. The light playful tunes of a variety of ragtime tunes delighted my ears.  One of  my favorite albums was  The Sting, a smorgasbord of  Joplin’s Rags from the 1973 movie.  I used to put the tape casette in my recorder and play the album over again. However as time went by, I moved to listening to music on CDs. My tape recorder and tapes, (i.e. The Sting ) were  surrendered to the depths of my closet.  Eventually, through cleaning out and moving, I became tapeless.  In 2006,  I  got an  iPod, which holds my music collection.  However, my music collection is not the same without the ragtime album, The Sting. So, I was on a quest on the Internet to locate ragtime songs I could download to my iPod. I found 2 good sites.

The first is allmusic at http://www.allmusic.com/.  All Music is a site designed for and by music fans and is especially well organized.  Above the AllMusic blog and the colorful album thumbnails is a search form.  Searches can be selected by Artist/Group, Album, Song, and Classical Work.  Selecting Advanced Search leads to a web form with a question about what database to search.  After selecting a database (e.g. Pop) ,  subsequent questions appear (about 4 or 5)  with menu selections to narrow the search.  Aftering entering the Album Name, (e.g. The Sting) , a window appears with about 20+ albums entitled (The Sting). Hovering to the left of the “Year” and under “Relevance” displays the album cover.  Choosing an album, (e.g.  the 1973 version of The Sting) , opens a window. The window a general overview, a review of the album and a list of tracks. Clicking on  .R. next to a song leads to a song review.  All Music is a little clunky when purchasing an album. The buy tab, associted with the album, does not seem to be selectable.  However, by accessing allmusic’s faq’s, at http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=32:amg/info_pages/a_faq_shopping.html , reputable dealers can be found. For example, linking to the Barnes and Noble site, I located The Sting CD for about $6.50.

The second  is “Professor” Bill Edwards Ragtime MIDI, Sheet Music, Nostalgia and Rag Resources Center at http://perfessorbill.com/index.html . Bill is a software contractor with a passion for anything ragtime.  Vintage records from the 1950’s or earlier can be found on this site.  To the left, music can be searched by CD recording, sheet music, MIDI/Covers, Ragtime Articles, Nostalgia, References, and Indices.  To download a ragtime sample from Scott Joplin,  select “Scott Joplin” under MIDI/Covers.  Then press MIDI Index (MIDI is a song file format that can be read by many media players, such as Windows Media Player ). A list of songs will appear. Choose a song (e.g. the Maple Leaf Rag) and in minutes the honey-sweet notes of ragtime will emerge from the computer.  Navigate back to Ragtime articles, and the historical context pertaining to the music appears.

I plan to return to the allmusic and “Professor” Bill Edwards Ragtime MIDI, Sheet Music, Nostalgia and Rag Resources Center
frequently to get my ragtime fix.  In no time my iPod will ring with the uplifting notes of Ragtime.


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