Alnwick Rag
by Jeffrey Hall [playing time 4:35, 4.19 MB]  [Download the MP3]

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© 1990. (BMI)

I wrote Alnwick Rag as a diversion from overdosing on astrophysics while in graduate school. It is the second rag in which I tried experimenting with the theme-and-variation genre. The repeats of the B and D themes are explicitly written out and employ inversion, in which melodic lines get turned upside down. In the B theme, the whole thing is repeated upside down; in D, it seemed to work better to interleave inverted and "right side up" elements. I've always found these compositional tricks interesting to listen to, and if it was good enough for a Bach fugue, it's good enough for a piano rag! This rag is also an experiment in extreme syncopation; the melody is broken into jittery chord fragments that jump all around the beat, suggesting the melody rather than actually stating it.

And the apparently random name of this rag, which is also the name of a well-known and quite beautiful English castle? Well, in keeping with the often playful nature of ragtime titles, the names of many of the rags I wrote as a teenager were oblique references to my mother's numerous cats. This is one of them, since she had a cat named Percy. A little Googling will reveal the connection.

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