My name is Ragnar Hellspong. I've been playing ragtime piano in the Stockholm area for more than 50 years and piano in various traditional jazz bands for even longer than that. So I'm obviously an old man. Stopped playing in jazz bands long ago but just for fun I present below a 1990 recording by my last band (called Rhythm Kings). We took our tunes primarily from the repertoir of Louis Armstrong's Hot Five, Jelly Roll Morton's Red Hot Peppers and Bix Beiderbeck and his Gang. This sample is from the Bix repertoir and it's called:
If you want to find out more on my background: here is an article I wrote for AMICA Bulletin describing how this web site came about.
First heard ragtime on a vinyl record, probably around 1958. It was a piano roll recording and I still remember some of the tunes: Magnetic Rag, Ragtime Oriole and A Tennessee Tantalizer.
It was practically impossible to find any ragtime sheet music back then but I was lucky enough to finally find a folio of 12 classical rags by Scott Joplin, James Scott and Joseph Lamb. That's how it started for me.
Some years ago I composed two rags myself. Here they are:
I also made an orchestra arrangement of Rag's Rag, not for the common ragtime orchestra setting but for a jazz band, without a string section. Here it is:
Krusenberg Rag has been arranged for pianola by Adam Ramet of Pianola Society fame. Here is his arrangement. The pdf-file contains the arrangement, and comparing it to the original score gives a clue to why piano rolls usually sound more brilliant and fingerbreaking than straight performances of the piano score. On a piano roll you can have as many voices as you like and you are not restricted by the limited span of human hands.
|2000||Krusenberg Rag for pianola (Arr: Adam Ramet)|
Today ragtime sheet music and MIDI files are readily available on the Internet. So why make yet another ragtime site?
Reason #1 is that nowhere have I found each piano rag presented with both an audio file and the corresponding sheet music. Here you can look at the sheet music while listening to the audio file. For someone wanting to learn how to play a certain rag this must be ideal.
Reason #2 is that I believe it's no longer advisable to stick to rags in MIDI-format. The sound quality for the average man (with no other sound source than his computer's built-in Wavetable synth) is poor and the fact that a MIDI-file is about 100 times smaller than a mp3-file has become irrelevant. Broadband connections are getting faster and faster, yet all ragtime sites carry MIDI-files only. So all files on this site are in mp3 format which gives a much better sound quality for everyone plus when downloading the files the possibility to use various mp3-devices (including most mobile phones) for play back.
Reason #3 is that I felt the need for a site which also carried ragtime orchestra audio files and arrangements. It would certainly please me if this site could inspire someone to start a ragtime band using the arrangements presented here. I would love to start one myself too.
If you want to comment on this site you can can reach me at my mail adress below (can't make it too easy for spam robots!).
I also have a related blog where all uploads to this site are listed.