Star Wars

World Music Exploration - Ragtime Music

I bet you're expecting to hear Scott Joplin's Maple Leaf Rag or The Entertainer with a title like today's entry. Nope.The fact of the matter is, there were several other ragtime music composers, such as Joseph Lamb, James Scott, Jelly Roll Morton,Charles L. Johnson and May Aufderheide. What defines ragtime music? First off, there's the syncopated melody. If you look at sheet music, you'll see many ties and rests that shift the accents. Next, there's the stride piano bass (the "boom-chick" part). They are all pretty steady, keeping a march-like time. Then there's the form - that's pretty fairly standard; |:A:||:B:|A|:C:| Trio being quite common.

This week's clip is a ragtime version of a famous Star Wars Theme: Cantina Band, performed by Martin Spitznagel & Bryan Wright. Enjoy!

(c) 2011 by Musespeak(TM), Calgary, AB, Canada. All rights reserved.

Movie Music Musings

Christmas Break gives me a chance to catch up on all the movies and shows I want to see. I finally got around to watching The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, Witch and the Wardrobe. Excellent story but excessive use of the blue screen. The actors were a delight to watch. Casting was excellent. As a writer and musician, I couldn’t help but analyze the movie from these two angles. I’ve never read the books (but I will next year). The writer within reveled at picking out symbolism and foreshadowing, while the musician was moved to tears when Aslan went to meet his fate. The drum’s tattoo filled the theatre with dread as Aslan padded up to face the witch. The strings sang out their doleful melodies, swelling into a heartbreaking crescendo as the terms of Aslan's bargain with the witch were fulfilled.

Music makes a huge difference in movies, I think. If the music doesn’t match what is happening on the screen, it does make it more difficult to connect with the characters emotionally.

Both The Lord of the Rings Trilogy and the Star Wars Trilogies are superb examples of when the music, action and dialogue are seamlessly joined and balanced. It’s Wagnerian, really.

Wag-huh? Richard Wagner (pronounced VAHG-ner) was a German composer, conductor and writer who lived in the 1800s. He revolutionized opera by his use of leitmotifs – a recurring theme that is associated with a certain character or event. Look no further than Luke Skywalker’s theme played when he contemplated his destiny standing before Tatooine’s twin suns or the theme for the Fellowship of the Ring.


On a final note, this will be my last post for 2005. Happy New Year everyone! May 2006 be a healthy, prosperous and happy one for you.

© 2005, Musespeak™, Calgary, AB, Canada. All rights reserved.