Flag Rag
by Jeffrey Hall [playing time 3:50]  [Download the MP3]

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© 1995. (BMI)

I wrote this rag in 1995. The name is derived from the locals' nickname for my hometown of Flagstaff, AZ. I gave this particular rag that name because I came up with the A theme during my first plane ride out to Arizona in graduate school, on my way to Tucson for nine nights of observing at Kitt Peak for my astronomy thesis. It has always had a mental connection to the Southwest for me.

Like my more recent Flying Fiddle Rag, it is what I call a cyclic rag. In classical music, cyclic refers to a pervasive melodic or rhythmic element that binds different parts of a works together (such as a motive that appears in multiple movements). In Flag Rag, this stems from a short rhythmic tag that appears throughout; in the A theme, it appears in the first beat of the second measure of each phrase:

Flag Rag A theme

You'll hear it again in the B theme, except leading off the phrases rather than ending them, and then back in its original spot in the C and D themes. Each theme also concludes with a similar cadence, though they become stronger rhythmically and melodically from theme to theme, starting with ii-V-I in the A theme and arriving at a perfect IV-V-I in the D theme.

The keys are my favorite combination of E flat modulating to A flat at the C theme.


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