Jazz Notes

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Piano Hoedown | Keep on Rollin | Silent Move Rag | Free Range Funk | Goin’ off the Rails | Yo todavía sueño de España | Chick Please | Ragatina | I Wanna Boogie | Boppy Dazzler | Cuba Libra | Royal Wedding Rag | The 3rd Way | Ragatina No2 | Ragatina No3 | Ragatina No4 | Ragatina No5 | Ragatina No6 | Ragatina No.7 | Tinkling the Plastics | Owens on the Fiddle | The Sweetest Pea | Two Terries Rag | Sweet Ol’ Granny Green | Jolly Good Rag | Two Left Feet | Where’s the White Ball Going | What did you think of the Jam? | Postman Pauline | Clavatory | Complicated Life | Rag-maninoff | Turning in the Gravy | Scuttlebutt Wag | Crazy Thirds | Melvyn the Hairy Mammoth | Glad-Rag | Rosy Buckle’s Honey | Sheep in Woolly Jumpers | That Old Film Flicker | Buster’s Pork Pie | No-one makes me ‘Appier | When Oliver met Stan | Higgledy-Piggledy
| The Pointless Chase | Bob and Marge | Pootlin’in Bootle | Tea in the Park | Joshua | Steven the Trekkie | The Chocolate Fayre | Fastest Finger First | It’s Triplets! | Stride Never Died | Trippity Trip to Ireland | New Allotment Hoedown | Wikkity Wakkity Doo Doo

Jazz and Ragtime music by Mel Stallwood

 

Piano Hoedown

piano_hoedownComposed 1982 and published in ’Jazz Dazzlers for Piano’ for piano teaching purposes.

I think I composed a version of this tune while working with a Country Band using fiddles and Banjos etc. This piano version rocks along quite nicely though.

My Grandfather (Frank Stallwood Snr.) was a great banjo, mandolin & harmonica player. He also was blessed with a lovely tenor voice which I would had loved to have inherited. I did however have a go a learning the banjo and guitar when I was younger, and as a result began to appreciate country and bluegrass styles of music. The ‘Piano’ Hoedown was therefore an inevitability.

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Keep on Rollin’

Composed in 2002 and published in ’Jazz Dazzlers for Piano’ for teaching purposes. This needs to be quite solid to drive well with no partitioning of the 7/4 time signature. Timing and accenting is fairly critical to avoid a mechanical and unnatural swing.

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Silent Movie Rag

Silent_Movie_frontHere’s a Raggy piece I wrote about 10 years ago originally for accordion (Leprechaun Dance) and eventually became a piano solo called ‘The Magic Lantern Rag’ before finally being called ‘The Silent Movie Rag’.

This frenetic piece is a joy to play and reminds me of the silent movie days (not that I was there). The speed is really at the discretion of the performer. The strong percussive style highlighted in the middle section features in a number of my ragtime tunes (not sure why though).

I have really loved Ragtime ever since I first heard my Uncle Frank rattle off the ‘Maple Leaf Rag’ before I could hardly reach a piano keyboard.

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Free Range Funk

Composed C1981 and later published in ’Jazz Dazzlers for Piano’ for teaching purposes. Very solid 70s style funk where precise and properly articulated phrasing is crucial. The syncopation is the thing that defines this piece. I think I must have been watching chickens at the time.

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Goin’ off the Rails

Composed 2003 and published in ’Jazz Dazzlers for Piano’ for teaching purposes.
A very solid, driving boogie featuring very little other than some descending Dominant 13th chords and a key change. It could use an improvised development but stands up well enough as a study or a cameo of it’s genre.

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Yo todavía sueño de España

SpainComposed 17th October 2002 and published in ’10 Character Studies for Piano’ for teaching purposes.

I spent six months playing piano in Majorca in 1971 and this study has a flavour of those hazy distant days. The ‘B’ section is’ jazzy’ rather than’ latin’ and the LH reminds me of a double bass part I once heard. The improvisational development (added later) follows a dream I once had. The D major melody at the end (originally B minor at the beginning) simply represents the sun coming out, or maybe me waking up, or ‘cos it sounded nice…

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Chick Please

Composed C1982 and later published in ’Jazz Dazzlers for Piano’ for teaching purposes. Very solid 70s style funk where precise and properly articulated phrasing is crucial. The syncopation is the thing that defines this piece. There is much scope for extra soloing. This piece was originally composed for a Jazz-Funk band and is heavily inspired by the music of Chick Corea.

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Clavatory

HolidayInnDon’t ask me what Clavatory means. All I can say is I was sitting in the loo (lavatory) thinking about my early music crazy-days during the 60’s and early 70’s and all the gear I used to lug around – Hammond M100, Leslie Cab, Fender Rhodes and Hohner Clavinette… Oh, I even had A Mellotron for awhile, allegedly the one used by the ‘Moody Blues’. I just couldn’t keep the thing tuned and working properly for long. Anyway the Hohner Clavinette was my funk machine and I started to think about the way I played the thing. All that had been on the Telly was the Election and the ‘Tory’ majority etc. etc. on virtually every station so I had ‘Clav’ and ‘Tory’ on the brain.

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Ragatina No.1 ‘Ragamuffin’

Wheres_The_White_Ball-mp3-imageI couldn’t decide whether to call this piece ‘Ragatina’ or ‘Ragamuffin’ (some might call it Raga-rubbish) but either way it remains as a nice memorable A-B-A ragtime (ternary form) composition having fewer sections than a traditional rag (hence Ragatina).

Play exactly as written with good accents and slurring (not slurrying).

Again, the strong percussive style highlighted in the middle section features in a number of my ragtime tunes (not sure why though).

I have loved Ragtime ever since I first heard Joplin’s ‘Maple Leaf Rag’. ‘Elite Syncopations’ was another favourite. I have an ‘alter ego’ called Herbi Dumplinz

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Ragatina No.2 ‘Cleaning the Bath’

Wheres_The_White_Ball-mp3-imageThis Rag exudes joy and cheerfulness. It has the alternate title ‘Cleaning the Bath’ (I often get these kind of instructions from the wife while I am trying to write) – written on the 1st of February 2015 (No.2 and bathroom seem to go together somehow)

I have loved Ragtime ever since I first heard Joplin’s ‘Maple Leaf Rag’. ‘Elite Syncopations’ was another favourite. I have an ‘alter ego’ called Herbi Dumplinz

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Ragatina No.3 ‘The Cordless Vacuum’

Wheres_The_White_Ball-mp3-imageA typical mini-rag. It has the alternate title ‘The Cordless Vacuum’ (We had a new one delivered as I was writing this one) – written on the 1st of February 2015 along with Ragtime No.2

I have loved Ragtime ever since I first heard Joplin’s ‘Maple Leaf Rag’. ‘Elite Syncopations’ was another favourite. I have an ‘alter ego’ called Herbi Dumplinz

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Ragatina No.4 ‘Decorating the Parlour’

Wheres_The_White_Ball-mp3-imageAnother typical mini-rag. It has the alternate title ‘Decorating the Parlour’ (The middle section section left-hand octaves melody suggests the ‘Stones’ ‘Paint it Black’) – written on the 3rd of February 2015

I have loved Ragtime ever since I first heard Joplin’s ‘Maple Leaf Rag’. ‘Elite Syncopations’ was another favourite. I have an ‘alter ego’ called Herbi Dumplinz

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Ragatina No.5 ‘A Little Pick ‘n’ Mix’

Wheres_The_White_Ball-mp3-imageAnother one of my frantic mini-rags. It has the alternate title ‘A Little Pick ‘n’ Mix’ (I really miss Woolworths – a shop I knew since a small child but sadly nothing lasts forever!) In our little town we had some lovely quirky old shops years ago which were a joy to browse around and buy unusual items (I never had a problem getting my wife an anniversary gift then). Some even had a little tea room. They all seem to get replaced by Betting shops, Pawn shops, Pizza houses, Mobile phones, Pound shops and ‘Ta’oo parlours (almost forgot the Fake tan thingies). Katie Price will probably be PM soon.

Maybe I’ll keep this tune the same as it is – written on the 5th of February 2015.

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Ragatina No.6

Wheres_The_White_Ball-mp3-imageAnother one of my mini-rags. It has the alternate title ‘Muddling Through’ (something I know a bit about) – written on the 8th of February 2015

I have loved Ragtime ever since I first heard Joplin’s ‘Maple Leaf Rag’. ‘Elite Syncopations’ was another favourite. I have an ‘alter ego’ called Herbi Dumplinz

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Ragatina No.7 ‘Fiddlin’ On’

Wheres_The_White_Ball-mp3-imageAnother one of my mini-rags. It has the alternate title ‘Fiddlin’ On’ – written on the 16th of March 2015

I was trying to remember a fiddle tune I had written in the 70’s for a band and could only remember the first few bars. I continued writing anyway and after finishing ‘Fiddlin’ On’ I suddenly remembered the elusive tune (virtually note for note) and promptly transcribed what was originaly called ‘The Donkey Song’. I renamed it ‘Owen’s on the Fiddle’ (see notes). Ragatina No.7 and Owen’s on the Fiddle are now separate entities connected only by my rapidly decaying brain synapses.

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Tinkling the Plastics

Tinkling_the_Plastics-mp3-imageA real frantic showpiece rag with a boogie-woogie middle section. – written on the 9th of February 2015. This has become my most downloaded ragtime (sheet music) piece. For the uninitiated, piano keys were traditionally made of ivory (black keys – ebony) and ‘Tinkling the Ivories’ became a catchphrase for playing the piano. Now piano keys are produced using synthetic material for the white (and black) tops.

I have loved Ragtime ever since I first heard Joplin’s ‘Maple Leaf Rag’. ‘Elite Syncopations’ was another favourite. I have an ‘alter ego’ called Herbi Dumplinz

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Owen’s on the Fiddle

piano_hoedownI originally composed this piece in the late 70’s. I was working in country band and everyone seemed impressed by the fiddle and steel guitar simulations I produced from one of my keyboards so I wrote a piece that came to be called the ‘Donkey Song’ The band would shout EE AW, EE AW and then I would play the fiddly bits. The guitar and keyboards would battle solos and I must say it sounded really good at the time. A few years later I worked in another country band in Germany and Holland and the ‘Donkey Song’ again was featured in our sets. It wasn’t until a real fiddle player joined the band (‘Owen John’) that I relinquished the fake fiddle role and now we had ‘Owen on the Fiddle’ (still had steel guitar though) (but missing the EE AWs) My big mate in Germany was Roger Cotton who (at the time of writing) plays keyboards with the Peter Green Splinter Group (Fleetwood Mac remnants) We played together for many years in Europe, on Ships and in the UK. Our experiences in those days would fill another book.

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I Wanna Boogie ‘n’ Get on Down

 

Composed 1982 and later published in ’Jazz Dazzlers for Piano’. A typical piano boogie-woogie with most of the usual trimmings. I prefer this one with straight quavers a la rock’n’roll. Nothin’ more to be said.

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The Sweetest Pea

pea_womanComposed on the 25th March 2015. We should been away at a Forest Lodge in Yorkshire this week. I had just about recovered from a nasty man-flu (lasted about a week) and Jane dutifully began her innings the day before we were due to travel. Jane always suffers much more than I do and is still pretty bad as I write this (26th March 2.38p.m) Anyway I wrote the tune (yesterday) but couldn’t think of a good name for it. Meanwhile, Jane was unfortunately detained in the loo for what seemed ages. By the time I got in I was so desperate – the title of the number easily came to mind… (in passing)
all I am saying is – Give peas a chance!

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Two Terries Rag

Composed on the 14th April 2015. Two Terries (JW friends) came round on a visit while I was in mid compositional frenzy. One Welsh, one English, one black, one white, both lovely people. (Black & White Rag? already been done)

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Sweet Ol’ Granny Green

Sweet_Granny_Green-mp3-imageFor as long as I’ve known my wife Jane, I have affectionately given her strange nicknames. Jane became ‘Janice’ ‘Janine’ and many other variations. As we grew older the names became more and more odd (even sinister) and names like ‘Jaundice’ and ‘Gangrene’ became the popular choice of the day. Anyway Gangrene became ‘Granny Green’ and now the insane legend continues forever in music…

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Jolly Good Rag

Jolly_Good_Rag-mp3-imageI first penned the section in G major and found, as I was having a particularly bad rheumatoid arthritis day it took my fingers a while to keep up the speed. I decided to play a lazier version in F major (I like F major for ‘bluesier’ styles and G major for ‘razzamatazzy’ ‘raggy’ styles (usually anyway) I ended up liking both versions and as I didn’t feel up to writing a ‘bridge’ or development I glued them both together and ‘Hey Presto’ (I may have made a slight boo boo)

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Where’s the White ball Going?

John_VirgoSnooker is one of those games we like to watch because of the peace and calm and gentlemanly behaviour and of course the skill and precision. That was until recently when the commentators have become like Murray Walker on delirium pills. Anyway, this week I have been watching the World Snooker Championships. (pity about the ‘Rocket’) John Virgo’s legendary phrase “Where’s the white ball going?” is my latest obsession, so it is now immortalised in music.

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What did you think of the Jam?

HippieNow I have officially become an old git I can now finally understand my Father’s generation’s despair over what happened in the sixties. ‘Hippies’, ‘Flower Power’, ‘Free Love’ and all the ‘fab gear’ nonsense that seemed so ‘cool’ at the time. Anyway at least we had some great music which, although very raw was original, unsampled and unrecycled and ‘no worries’ about ‘political correctness’ ‘diversity’ ‘gender issues’ etc. Anyway, the thing that really irritates our lot the most with younger people today is the ‘Aussie inflection’. We were taught at school that British people inflect downwards at the end of sentences (apart from questions) When we had French classes we were then taught that the French did the opposite and the higher the portamento rose the more authentically French we sounded. Now this habit among the British have gone to most ridiculous proportions to the point where every single sentence sounds like a question and I know I am not the only ol’ git to find it tote maddening. I know for a fact the even many Australians think we have gone too far. So, what about this piece of music? (getting uppety?) Listen to the pitch and then sing “What did you think of the Jam? – I made it with Marmite… (That’s why I don’t write lyrics) anyway melodies are supposed to go up and down. The form is simple A-B-A jazz-classical-jazz (it’s not fusion – the middle section suddenly morphs into a Tarrantella and then Beethoven or something)
Just to get back to being a whinging pom, I do think a lot of modern pop music seems to be overly percussive and aggressive and has become bereft of the old boy meets girl and falls in love story. (That was what pop music was supposed to be about) Put that into your hippie pipe – but what ever you do don’t smoke it. What about ‘The Jam? – now there’s a band for you! anyway back to my jam session…

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Postman Pauline

mail-ladyThis piece is not about a cross-dressing postman. Many years ago when we lived in Stamford we had live fireworks pushed through our letter-box by a bunch of local kids which threatened to burn our house down while we were at home. Ever since Jane has insisted we close off our letter-box and duly informed the postman either to open the door and drop the mail on the floor (in the hall) or leave it in the box I screwed on the wall outside. We always unlock the front door in the mornings and the Postman always opens the door and leaves the mail. We have never had to brief new posties these instructions because they always seem to know. One morning I was on my way to the kitchen to make the morning tea (virtually naked) and the front door suddenly opened. I knew it would be the postman and said “Morning” as usual, only to find that the postman had become female. Pauline cheerfully delivered our mail for several years (hesitantly opening the door though) before one her knees gave in to the daily pounding. Even though we now have a new front door with a fully functional letter-box, all the posties continue to leave the mail in the hall.

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Living in a Complicated Life

Complicated_Life-mp3-imageThis piece was nearly called ‘Living with a Complicated Wife’ but I wisely chickened out! I have included my clarinet/piano arrangement, which I think probably works pretty well and also an arrangement for brass quintet for comparison. I have published scores for all three.

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Rag-Maninoff

I had no intention of composing a piece with this title but I am trying to combine various styles and genre with ragtime and although their is no actual musical references taken from the works of Rachmaninoff included, the middle section cameo seems to allude to that general period for me. Anyway I couldn’t think of anything better to call the thing. I don’t take my music so seriously that they would demand particularly grandiose titles. This is essentially a ragtime piece with a small slice of classical in the middle. I liken it to a mint imperial middle, coated with dark chocolate!

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Turning in the Gravy

Turning-in-GravyThe title suggests that purists in various fields of piano music will be horrified that I have mixed up several kinds of musical genre’s and made a lovely thick gravy from the chosen ingredients. I have always unashamably loved all kinds of jazz styles, from rag to bebop, and then to throw in my beloved Mozart and Beethoven to me is like ‘cheesecake’ it really shouldn’t work, but it does. Even though most jazz and classical purists will probably ‘turn in their graves’.

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Scuttlebutt Wag

I had no reason to write this piece other than I hadn’t written anything since we moved to Staindrop from Middle Farm (about 2 months) I thought I needed to try and write something and this is what came out. I called it ‘Gossiping for England’ due to the generally frenzied ambience of the thing but later settled on ‘Scuttlebutt Wag’ because I really like the image it seems to conjure (to me anyway).

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Crazy Thirds

This piece was written without much thought other than an exercise in ‘thirds’ (intervals). As a child learning piano I disliked playing scales in thirds and only became passably proficient when I needed to in later exams. Anyway they crop up fairly rarely in Classical music apart from Czerny and Hanon exercises and studies, but rapid parallel thirds sound quite pleasant to me and work well in novelty ragtime.

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Rosy Buckle’s Honey

The title betrays the slight plagiarism drawn from Fats Waller’s ‘Honeysuckle Rose’ (one of my favourite pianists). The style is not intended to mimic ‘Fats’ but is simply meant as a charming novelty piece. When I was 14 I came 3rd in the 1963 National Association of Boys Clubs Music Competition (finals were held in Birmingham) playing my boogie-woogie piano arrangement of ‘Honeysuckle Rose’ and Winifred Atwells ‘Five Finger Boogie’. Honeysuckle Rose was the probably the first serious jazz arrangement I ever put together (with lots of help from my jazz teacher at the time Derek Hill).

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Sheep in Woolly Jumpers

Woolly_Sheep

As one of the few who tries his best to avoid as much as possible the frenzied ‘temple money-changing’ 4 month long Xmas event (I can’t bring myself to call it ‘Christ’mas as the ‘X’ replaced Christ long ago). Actually Jesus was never ‘in’ Christmas, he was more interested in his followers remembering his death and what that meant for us and so he never allowed us to know the exact date of his birth. In fact the early Christians didn’t even celebrate their own birthdays. Most of my friends do not share my isolated stance at this time of year and send me non-festive cards of winter scenes and robins etc. Sheep farmer Paul sent a lovely card with sheep dressed in jumpers and scarves and that gave me the excuse to stop scrooging and whingeing and write this novelty piano piece.

(23rd December 2015)

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That Old Film Flicker

Old_Film_FlickerA stunning showcase piano piece reviving the silent movie days but also including a funky boogie middle section. Ideal for study or recital. The key of B flat major moves through G minor, E minor and G major before returning to the home key. I would have loved to have played for silent movies but unfortunately that particular genre was long gone by the time I was anywhere near good enough.

(3rd January 2016)

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Buster’s Pork Pie

KeatonPorkpieA comical novelty piano piece recalling memories of the silent movie days with a title alluding to Buster Keaton and his signature ‘pork pie’ hat. The piece references several familiar tunes and jingles and would probably delight an audience although I haven’t yet given it a go.

“Keaton designed and modified his own pork pie hats during his career. In 1964, he told an interviewer that in making “this particular pork pie”, he “started with a good Stetson and cut it down”, stiffening the brim with sugar water. The hats were often destroyed during Keaton’s wild film antics; some were given away as gifts and some were snatched by souvenir hunters. Keaton said he was lucky if he used only six hats in making a film. Keaton estimated that he and his wife Eleanor made thousands of the hats during his career. Keaton observed that during his silent period, such a hat cost him around two dollars; at the time of his interview, he said, they cost almost $13.” (Wikipedia)

I have dedicated this composition to my Uncle Buster who was killed in action in WWII.

(composed 6th January 2016)

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No-one makes me ‘Appier than U

LetterUJane was having a bit of a down day so I wrote this novelty piano piece to cheer her up. (and also I am particularly partial to the letter ‘U’) by the time I got to the middle I was so happy I couldn’t bear anymore cheesie music and immediately switched to the minor key. (phew!)
(composed 10th February 2016)

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When Oliver met Stan

stanlaurelI tried to write a Novelty piano piece that is playable by intermediate performers. Stan Laurel went to school close to where I live and I wanted to capture a little of his character in the tune. A slice of melancholy, a small dose of nostalgia for a more daft and innocent time, a look of bewilderment and impending doom. None of which is in my piece. Unfortunately I couldn’t capture his genious either.

(composed 16th February 2016)

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Higgledy-Piggledy

(composed 7th April 2016)
This piece is quite difficult to play fluently at high speed. I began to write the opening section in the key of C which wasn’t too bad but I needed a flatter (less twinkly) mood and transposed down a 6th to A flat. I meant to write a piece called ‘The Rag Trade’ but it all seemed a bit ‘Higgledy-Piggledy’

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The Pointless Chase

(composed 3rd May 2016)
A frantic solo piano show piece ideal for recital or study. The arrangement begins in the key of C and progresses through Ab major and F minor before returning to the home key. My family love watching all the quiz games on the TV and ‘The Chaser'(ITV) and ‘Pointless'(BBC) are unfortunately both on at the same time. We find ourselves frantically switching back and forth monitoring the contestants progress. I imagined the whole procedure filmed in ‘silent-movie’ style and this was the result! All a bit pointless really…

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Bob and Marge

Yorkies(composed 26th January 2017)
Our lovely next door neighbours are called Bob and Margaret. Every day Bob walks past our house with three ‘Yorkies’ who are not at all happy with the world. I am one of the world’s great dog-lovers but these three (if they were big enough) would like to tear me limb from limb. Despite all this Bob ‘n’ Marge are pleasant enough neighbours. Bob has the cleanest car for miles.

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Pootlin’ in Bootle

(composed 26th April 2017)
I have no idea why I came up with this title. I can’t remember ever going to Bootle. Not sure where it is although I think HMRC is involved. Should of called it ‘Put the Boot in in Bootle’. Jane uses the word ‘Pootling’ and ‘Pootle’ a lot when we are driving, maybe thats it! The bit from J.S.Bach flute suite in the middle is my most obvious plagiarustic moment ever!

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Tea in the Park

(composed 22nd October 2017)

I woke up Sunday morning after dreaming about being young and writing hit songs. Unfortunately I couldn’t remember any of the amazing music in my dream. Anyway I thought I’d better write something and this was the result. As I hadn’t written anything all summer (we had about 3 sunny days – good for Northern England) I wanted to write something happy but also melancholy with English picnics, cucumber sandwiches and tea! plus the usual traditional weather…

I included my usual ridiculous classical cameo in the middle to keep the insane tradition alive but I will probably rewrite it (without the piano concerto cadenza) as a straight rag. At least my rag/stride sheet music fans will be happy!

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Steven the Trekkie

(composed 23rd January 2018)

This piece is dedicated to Son-in-Law Steven who has kept me in computers for many years and without whom this PC in which I write would not exist.

The piece begins with a ‘Star Trek’ tribute and then drifts jollily through my now legendary novelty piano style modulations.

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The Chocolate Fayre

(composed 10th February 2018)

My wife kindly bought me a present box of lovely hand-made chocolates from the ‘Chocolate Fayre’ in Barnard Castle. I soon became addicted and another box arrived after a month. Well I had a migraine for 3 days and assumed I was doing too much computer work. I had a break and wrote a few tunes (including this one) but still had a bad head. Yes, I eventually figured it was the Chocs…. Can’t stop eating them though… Should be called Chocolate Unfayre…

The Chocolate Fayre is a NoveltyPiano/Ragtime piece in celebration of carnal fleshly desires…

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Fastest Finger First

(composed 18th June 2018)

We have been watching re-runs of ‘Who wants to be a Millionaire’ on the Tell-Lie-vision indoctrination machine and this has inevitably spilled over into my Novelty Piano compositions. I nearly called it ‘Tarrant Terror’ (Chris Tarrant) because of the Tarantella in the middle but soon thought that ‘Fastest Finger First’ was a much better title. So if you are ‘Sure’ and ‘Confident’ then try and play it at 172 BPM (or faster)

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It’s Triplets

(composed 23rd June 2018)

This piece is a great study for executing triplets, thirds and stride piano style. Finished just before the England v Panama world cup match on a very hot Sunday in June. Glad to say I haven’t actually had any triplets recently but I thought the title was as good as any for this piece.

 

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Joshua

(composed 8th November 2017)

This is a composition about Autism, which affects a member of our family, Joshua, who despite his condition has remarkable and wonderful qualities, as do his immediate family who, it’s fair to say have been to hell and back. I personally, sometimes have problems coping with the best of people and can be most intolerant sometimes but my amazing wife manages somehow to cope with me (most of the time). However, the sort of problems and challenges families with autistic children face daily, weekly, yearly is simply herioc and very underestimated. Anyway music is the only thing I seem to be half decent at so I dedicate this piece to Josh who I know one day will be perfect.

The piece begins and ends with a stride style novelty piano tune and has sad and emotional themes and modulations throughout. There is a brief minor melt down depicted in the music and interaction issues but there is (has to be) a nice jolly happy ending which is the rag/stride style.

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Stride Never Died (it just went underground)

(composed 10th July 2018)

I wrote this piece as a novelty piano study and then thought of the title which I soon realised that the piece isn’t really ‘stride’. I then added a few ‘tenths’ and slides to the opening section but it still remains one of my novelty (silent era) pieces. Anyway I like the title for some reason…

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Trippity Trip to Ireland

(composed 18th September 2018)

I wanted to write this one in the Silent movie (novelty piano) style but tried to get away from my ostentacious classical cameo’s in the development section. Unfortunately sanity did not prevail and I ended up inserting an Irish Jig instead. I don’t really think it works but I can only write as the inspiration (from a leprechaun in this case) dictates. This piece began as fragments and variations unused from my composition ‘It’s Triplets!’ so there are probably some glaring similarities. But WHO CARES!

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New Allotment Hoedown

(composed 23rd October 2018)

We have acquired an allotment fairly close to our back garden with the intention of growing non-poisonous food for our own consumption. I walked down to the plot the other day and stood around making mental plans (most of my plans are mental these days) and all I could imagine was having an accoustic country band playing to launch the project and have a nice dance and BBQ. This won’t actually happen but I thought I would write a novelty piano piece to immortalise the notion.

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Wikkity Wakkity Doo Doo

(composed 14th June 2019)
I couldn’t think of a suitable title for this frantic showcase number. I have written quite a few pieces featuring fast R.H. triplets in novelty piano style so this will probably be the last. (enough is enough) Anyway this one is an absolute joy to play when it gets up to scratch. The correct fingering is crucial. I think this is the 30,000th triplety novelty piano thing I’ve written so I am running out of fresh ideas and titles but somebody one day may want to play it.

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Two Left Feet

Seargent-300x222The 2nd audio above is the arrangement for brass quintet.

I have no idea how (or why) I wrote this piece. It happened quite quickly and flowed from my fingers more than my head (or heart). I had an image of a man from Barcelona marching hysterically on a parade ground (1st section) and then the piece morphed into another man having an equally hilarious dance lesson on Strictly Come Dancing (2nd section) (John Seargent?) The main problem I have is packaging this number – is it a March?, Is it a Waltz?, Is it Novelty Piano? Is it Classical? It even has some Ragtime suggestions. This could be my publishers nightmare… I know? It’s Super-marltz

Anyway The thing is now born and off it went. (deliberate mixing of tenses)

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Boppy Dazzler

Composed C1981 and later published in ’Jazz Dazzlers for Piano’. Typical ‘Be-Bop’ style but deceptively tricky, especially the R.H. 3rds and jazz band style improvisation with the walking bass. It’s worth persevering with especially if the improvisation is developed.

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Cuba Libre (with a lime wedge)

Cuba_Libra_front-308x288Not proper ragtime but I call it it Rag/Latin/Classic Fusion. Originally arranged for a Clarinettist (as was ‘Ragatina’ and ‘Silent Movie Rag’)

It is basically an improvisation generously topped with jazz & blues phrasing. The L.H. dotted crotchet rhythm gives it a distinctive Latin-American ‘lilt’ and the ridiculously lavish arpeggio section gives it…. I’m not exactly sure!

The ‘Lime Wedge’ ingredient also features somewhere in the middle.

I still remember my first Cuba Libre in Spain leading to a couple to many…

Composed March 2005 and published in ’10 Character Studies for Piano’ as a replacement for ‘Angels Music Box’

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Melvyn the Hairy Mammoth-T.V. Theme

MelvynComedy, Cartoon, arranged for brass quartet

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Royal Wedding Rag

Royal_Wedding_Rag-mp3-image-283x300Ragtime composers liked to write for important events and occasions, inaugurations, coronations and wedding and funerals etc.

I had the honour of writing a rag for the wedding of the Prince of Wales and Camilla Parker Bowles. “The Royal Wedding Rag” was a wedding gift for the couple in the form of sheet music and CD. This means I haven’t allowed the music to be released or used commercially but I have some nice royal thank you letters to keep as souvenirs.

Anyway, after 4 years or so since the happy event I thought I might add the mp3 to this blog for anyone to freely listen to or download.

I also arranged this piece as a piano duet (if I can still find the score) so If anyone would like the sheet music for solo or duet then please let me know.

Composed on the 9th of April 2005

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The 3rd Way

brown_blairI started out writing a simple novelty tune for students to improve their ability to play scales in 3rds. The title ‘The 3rd Way’ popped into my head and thought it was a suitable title. Soon I was including all kinds of ‘new labour’ references in the thing. The fairy dust opening will feature Mrs Thatcher morphing into Tony Blair.

The twin sugary sweet (con saccharino) major/minor 3rd progressions at the start are now representing Tony & Gordon’s initial relationship (as the general spin was). The augmented descending triads represent an added interval causing new labour to descend into chaos. The D minor section has the following words…

To-ny wants’ to go to war
May-be he’ll get round the law
We can build a new Je-ru-sa-lem in Bab-y-lon
We’re O. K. be-cause there’s wea-pons of mass de-struc-tion.

Jack is not a man of straw
Claire is such a fright-ful bore
Spinner’s weav-ing all their oil-y plans, mem-oirs grand
Plant the Red Flag in the Sand!

The fairy dust now shows Blair/Brown morphing into Cameron/Clegg and the ‘sweet’ music begins all over again…

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Glad-Rag

A throw away rag with a little too much engine oil, but great to play!

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Recent Posts

Bavarian Journey

I spent several years working in Germany and I wrote this to capture the ambience of Munich and Bavaria. The videos show the Christmas market. I also imagined snowy sleigh rides but didn’t have any clips to match. Maybe I could have added some bells? I rushed this video a bit so the synchronicity is probably… Well there isn’t any actually!

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