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Italian Ragtime?


One of the things I like about playing music with diverse groups of people is you get interesting ideas. Take “Italian ragtime.” I don’t know who at the Rapture Room suggested it, but somebody did. Turns out there is such a thing. (Thanks, Google.) Not much of one, because ragtime was a very short-lived genre, and very specifically American (and black American to boot), though ragtime did enjoy a momentary worldwide popularity—there’s some Czech ragtime, even Indonesian ragtime. And yes, Italian ragtime. I ran across two Italian ragtime tunes, one by an American composer, Rev. Gary Davis, and one by an Italian composer.

It’s actually fairly simple stuff, and I could play it on the guitar with a little practice. Ragtime isn’t about what you play so much as how it’s played. My favorite definition, among those I found, said that ragtime was an attempt to play African-American banjo music on the piano. (That one makes sense—to me, anyway.) Ragtime music doesn’t generally have words, of course—but anything I write has to have words. Words is what I do. I suppose for Italian ragtime, they’d have to be in Italian (“Alice” the ‘puter does have a translator program). Could make it a cowboy song (of the “spaghetti Western” variety, of course).

Add that to the list of things to do. The first thing I am going to finish is cleaning out the garage. After that I will worry about other things.

Michael and Sedona have the old digital camera, with a freshly-scrubbed brain and new batteries; they’ll call or e-mail when they’re done with it, and I’ll download their footage, wipe the brain again, and pass the camera on to someone else. The final product of this experiment—a music video of “Blue Krishna”—should be interesting.

Sent out a few politically charged Labor Day messages; to paraphrase Woody Guthrie, this Labor Day a lot of people didn’t have anything to labor at. The song that got the most attention? “50 Ways to Cure the Depression”—I think because it was on video, and the others weren’t. Like Len Amsterdam said, “Video is the new audio.” That’s a reminder that I should turn all of my music that I can into video—not because there’s any money in it (I have not seen any for me, at least), but because it’s an attention-getting tactic. If I want people to notice my stuff, I have to reach them through the medium they’re noticing in.

I have the video of “Blue Krishna” underway; I’ll see what I can do about “The Dog’s Song” this coming week (I do have a good recording of that, off the Deathgrass album). One that can be done “French style” (fast-moving slide show with text overlays) is “Twenty-Four Seven,” the all-cliches waltz. The soundtrack for that one isn’t bad, even though it was done on the Tascam. As with the “50 Ways” video, I’ll script out what photos I need, and snap them as the opportunities present themselves. Despite being the same “French style,” it will be different—I am insistent on each video being different, just like I want each song to be different.

Other stuff to do: the laptop to set up for video work; Ahna’s song to record; footage to film for the video class (I am really behind); the Train Set to organize; the garage studio to expand; the “My Baby’s On That Train” song to work on; more of Alice’s hard drive to free up (she’s only 95% full now). And the contests to enter. Don’t know about that local bluegrass band—I haven’t heard anything more. I did respond to ads on Craigslist from a couple of country vocalists (one in Texas, and one about 60 miles from where I live) looking for material—and they’ve responded back. Might be an opportunity there.



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