Three Black Crows (1899)

The “rare rags” page of Ted Tjaden’s website is a gold mine of American musical history worth your perusal. Three Black Crows—by F. Raymond Miller from 1899—is an intriguing proto-rag in the then-popular cakewalk style. Its first two 8-measure sections are expository afterthoughts, but the C section at the top of the second page has moments of musical interest, like melodic fragments occurring in various voices.

Notable are the delayed right hand accents, missing the downbeat by one sixteenth note; this is one of the earliest forms of authentic Ragtime syncopation, a way of “ragging” a piece by simply displacing the left and right hands of the performer. As with other period cakewalks, the jubilant trio is the focal section of Three Black Crows. The G-minor bridge between repetitions of the trio recalls the aforementioned C section syncopation.

Hot Jazz Jubile

Brandon Byrne Ragtime Piano Composition

Brandon Byrne is a ragtime composer, performer, and scholar. Max Morath said of Byrne, “Brandon’s unique compositions display unparalleled gifts and hidden virtuosity. His music reflects the past and challenges the future. His playing will touch your soul.” For a full list of his compositions, please visit his website.

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