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#2049210 - 03/16/13 04:17 PM Euphonic Sounds
SBP Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/12/12
Posts: 258
https://soundcloud.com/johnnevin/euphonic-sounds

This one's always been one my favorite Joplin songs, simply because how different it is from anything else he wrote. The near-constant running bass-line (only two or three measures actually have the traditional ragtime/march bass) really makes me question whether or not it should be considered a rag at all. It's much closer to the then-current European Romantic/post-Romantic works than ragtime or jazz. James P. Johnson once commented on how "modern" the piece was, and recorded it several times in the '40s. Indeed it is, to my ears, far less "old-timey" sounding than "Weeping Willow", "Swipesy", or "The Entertainer" (it would take one heck of a pianist to not make it call to mind a NYC slum or two chums at a jolly old minstrel show, thanks to The Sting).

Performance-wise, I feel I could have done better. I didn't really run-through it once or twice to warm-up, and I got a little carried away with the rubato, especially in the first part. I also didn't bother to set up my mics and computer down in the music room (it's no picnic dragging an iMac g5 plus mics plus keyboard, mouse, mousepad, cables, etc. down a flight of stairs and setting it all up just to pack it all up again 20 minutes later), so I used my iPhone's Voice-Memo app. Surprisingly, it didn't come out too horrible once I got it onto my computer, and with some minor tweaking it was listenable.
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2012 Kawai K3

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#2052508 - 03/22/13 02:16 PM Re: Euphonic Sounds [Re: SBP]
Tim Adrianson Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/10
Posts: 1127
An interesting submission, SBP! That's the first time I've ever heard "Euphonic Sounds".

Frankly, I don't hear this as being a "breakthrough" piece of Joplin's -- to my ears, it has the same structural approach and syncopated rhythms as any Joplin's other rags, although I guess I would agree with Johnson that the harmonic modulations and changes in register are unusually bold, and I suspect that this one of his late compositions. In general, I think that Joplin really WAS superior to his ragtime compatriots (Lamb and Turpin being the best known) in his ability to capture especially charming and delicious modulations in his journeys back to the original material.

Thanks for sharing this!

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#2054896 - 03/27/13 12:04 AM Re: Euphonic Sounds [Re: SBP]
SBP Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/12/12
Posts: 258
Indeed, it was one of his later compositions. Somewhere around 1905 or 1906, he went from fairly simplistic, almost-forgettable rags like The Entertainer, The Sycamore, and Easy Winners to these really thick, bold songs like Leola, Fig Leaf, Magnetic Rag, and of course, Euphonic Sounds.

Lamb wrote some amazing rags, but I often feel like he loses his inspirational steam about half-way through. The A & B sections are always wonderfully rich and haunting, but a lot of times, the Trio and D sections are simple and melodic. They're lovely, but just a bit...meh. Ragtime Nightingale and Sensation and some others are definite exceptions, though. He's definitely way overlooked as a composer, however. If you're interested in Lamb, a friend of his recorded him playing and sharing anecdotes onto a reel-to-reel tape in the '50s, which was put out as an LP in the '60s. Not sure if it's been rereleased on CD or MP3, but I've heard bootlegs of the bootlegs (Bootleg-ception?) online, and it is fascinating to hear him play the songs himself. They're not surprising, musically (he wasn't exactly a virtuoso, and even stumbles on his own songs), but it's amazingly raw.
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2012 Kawai K3

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#2054914 - 03/27/13 12:54 AM Re: Euphonic Sounds [Re: SBP]
Mark_C Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 19875
Loc: New York
I'm with you on how you view this piece. From the very first time I looked through it (I've worked on it and performed it), I saw it as unique, and a real outlier among his works. (One other piece stands out to me as an equal outlier, of a different kind: Heliotrope Bouquet, which is more understandably an outlier in view of its nature and history but that's another story.) smile

Before criticizing anything about the recording, I think it ought to be said that it sounds like you just haven't finished learning the piece thoroughly and confidently; this sounds like it's in mid-process. But, since you talked about 'getting carried away with the rubato'....I agree there's a rhythmic issue but it doesn't seem to me like that's it. I think the problem is that the rhythms in general are fuzzy. Whether or not you do rubato, and even with the lilts and freedom of good ragtime, the basic rhythm needs to be solid, with a sense that you're playing the rhythms and note values in some precise intended way (even if not exactly what's written), and it isn't solid enough here. So, rubato suffers a lot because there's no good platform to be varying from, and the result is sort of that it sounds a little drunk. grin
Also, I think it would need to go a bit faster in order for your interpretation to work. I can imagine this tempo working fine but IMO it would require a different basic approach on phrasing, dynamics, accents and stresses. Your interpretation just seems to 'want' to go faster.

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#2055166 - 03/27/13 03:29 PM Re: Euphonic Sounds [Re: SBP]
SBP Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/12/12
Posts: 258
Yeah, I haven't finished running through it quite yet :\ That, and there's the whole recording nervousness issue. Usually, I just power through the pain if I'm nervous or haven't learned it by heart, but I guess I didn't force my way through quite enough. Also, I was torn between playing it as a classical piece (like Rifkin) or playing it as a jazz piece (like Johnson). Usually, I play it rather briskly, which seems to be my de-facto tempo, and I guess I wanted to shy away from that. I'mma gonna try rerecording this in a couple of days.


Edited by SBP (03/27/13 03:34 PM)
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2012 Kawai K3

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#2055990 - 03/29/13 01:27 AM Re: Euphonic Sounds [Re: SBP]
Whizbang Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/27/12
Posts: 822
Lamb's 1960 album is available on CD and listenable for free on Spotify. He was about 70 when he performed it, so I for one forgive the lapses, especially given how technical his rags are. Lamb was never a professional performer like most of the other ragtimers. The real gold on the album is hearing the short anecdotes in Lamb's own voice.


Edited by Whizbang (03/29/13 01:30 AM)
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amateur ragtime pianist

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#2057553 - 03/31/13 09:29 PM Re: Euphonic Sounds [Re: SBP]
SBP Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/12/12
Posts: 258
So, I managed to play this song without any of the "drunken rhythm", as Mark put it. And I managed to record it. Unfortunately, it was at a dinner party on a dreadfully out of tune piano :| I can still post it, if y'all want.
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2012 Kawai K3

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