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Why Ragtime matters

It was important to do Tom Thomson & The Colours of Canada in Ragtime. Although Ragtime is stereotyped now in the minds of many, it was an extremely important form of music. Its original compositions, like the ones most of the songs in the show are set to, are highly complex musically, usually including a variety of keys, moods and musical themes. Amazingly, most of the best-known Ragtime compositions featured in our show were written – in classical sheet music notation - by sons of slaves.

Ragtime was the music of the day in Thomson's time, and it was the direct predecessor of almost all modern pop music and jazz. Although it was born along the Mississippi, it spread, and, indeed, there was a strong contingent of Canadian ragtime composers, including Jean-Baptiste Lafreniere, whose Taxi Rag provides the tune for one of our songs.

Ragtime was the first pop music. It was modern, encouraging sexy dancing and sly syncopation. Tom Thomson and the Group of Seven are so important to Canada because they represent Canada coming of age in a modern world. Ragtime was part of that world.

Our song-writing process was unique for this show. Ish Theilheimer started with lyrics and searched the Internet for ragtime compositions that might fit them, then found online sheet music for these precious tunes. Then, Peter Brown took that sheet music and shaped it to the lyrics. The show also contains one of Peter's own rags, and we are privileged to have him accompanying our show with his brilliant ragtime and stride piano style.

Here's where the tunes come from:

The Colours Of Canada - New Rag, by Scott Joplin

A Rangers Life - A Breeze From Alabama, by Scott Joplin

Mowat Lodge Song - Black And White Rag, by George Botsford

Who Is This Guy? - Pegasus Rag. by James Scott

Winnie's Song (I Could Tell You) - Temptation Rag, by Henry Lodge

We Would Have To Be Crazy - New Rag, by Scott Joplin

Maple Leaf Cultural Development Rag - Maple Leaf Rag, by Scott Joplin

The Search - Pork and Beans, by Lucky Roberts

I'm Looking Down In The Water - Weepin' Willow Blues, by Bessie Smith

A Fishy Tale - Argyle Strut, by Peter Brown

I Couldn't Help But Notice - Taxi Rag, by Jean-Baptiste Lafreniere

Speculation - A minor Rag, by Julius Lensberg