The Ragtime Project is a culmination of my summer-long exploration of Ragtime music, the first popular music originating from the United States. In addition to this EP, I also started a blog series and self-published an ebook discussing various topics related to Ragtime music and culture.
The first track of the album is Rag in Fourths. I combine the form and rhythmic language of Ragtime with a more modern harmonic fourths-based vocabulary.
The second track, Immitation Rag, is deeply inspired by Scott Joplin's Maple Leaf Rag, the first piece of sheet music to sell one million copies. However, instead of writing the Rag for piano, I orchestrated it for the instruments I play - flute, soprano saxophone, clarinet, and alto saxophone. It was challenging to create the iconic Ragtime texture of a low bass against mid-range chords and a high melody when all of the instruments occupy similar ranges, but the challenge made the process more exciting!
The final track, Reaching Back, is my attempt to synthesize Ragtime elements into my own composition. I begin the track with an a capella saxophone solo. I use the full range of the instrument to convey the three-tiered Ragtime texture discussed above. I then proceed into the bulk of the tune and utilize elements of Ragtime form - playing the A section twice, then the B section twice, returning to the A section once, introduce the C section and play it twice, and round out the piece with a final playing of the A section.
I have several people to thank. First, thank you to Henry Godfrey for playing on the project, mixing and mastering the audio, and for your constant support during the process of bringing this project to fruition. Thank you to my friend Ian Buss for feedback on the mixing and for lending me an important cable just in time! Thank you to my Patreon community for your unending support. Last but not least, I always like to thank my mom for her love and support. I am so thankful to have such a strong, compassionate, and ambitious role model in my life.
I hope you enjoy this project and that it inspires you to learn more about the Ragtime Era and how it helped shape the history of music in the United States.
released August 7, 2020
All compositions by Sam Spear
Alto and Soprano Saxophones, Clarinet, Flute - Sam Spear
Drums - Henry Godfrey
Mixing - Henry Godfrey and Sam Spear
Mastering - Henry Godfrey