Grateful Dead Music Forum

A place to talk about the music of the Grateful Dead 

Musical Theory Abound!!!
 #44182  by jjbankhead
 Thu May 22, 2008 7:58 am
the dead do some tunes that have rag feel,

but i am wondering about the sound of ragtime. It is pretty unique, does anyone have an explanation for what it is that makes rag sound different from say standard swing or other forms of jazz?

is it the time signatures alone and the use of instruments like the clarinet that make the sound or are there certain accents like in reggae where they are centered on the down beat?

i am still learning theory i get some basics but struggle with figuring out certain sounds like this.

 #44183  by Tennessee Jedi
 Thu May 22, 2008 8:06 am
I think Ragtime is in "cut" time.
That could be one signature of the style ....

 #44184  by jjbankhead
 Thu May 22, 2008 8:37 am
Tennessee Jedi wrote:I think Ragtime is in "cut" time.
That could be one signature of the style ....
can you explain cut time?

i can google it but if you have a simple explanation for what that means i'd appreciate it.

 #44185  by Tennessee Jedi
 Thu May 22, 2008 8:50 am
My drummer at one time was always correcting me when I would describe the beat as the "one - two ".
Think of the bass in Cumberland.
I call that feel the "one two " cause you can count it one two ... one two ....With the accent on beat two...
A Ragtime Dead example would be "Dupres Diamond Blues ".
To get the accent you could count one two one two and so on...
Me and my Uncle
Bigriver (And just about any other Johnny Cash song )
Mexacali are other examples of this accent ...
"Cut" time is some kind of jazz term I think 'cause the drummer guy was real into jazz and smart too.


 #44190  by mttourpro
 Thu May 22, 2008 11:20 am
I'm no expert in regards to ragtime, but IMHO, the twp things that really define "ragtime" are a "stride" bass and a syncopated melody. That's it.
Dupree's sounds ragtime-ish but really isn't in a technical sense.

 #44191  by Tennessee Jedi
 Thu May 22, 2008 11:30 am
But what if I play it on my 12 string ?
Yeah man You guys sound sweet .....
Been checking out them vids...
Some really good stuff ...
The only thing I know about Ragtime is Scott Joplins version of the Entertainer ....

 #44192  by wisedyes
 Thu May 22, 2008 11:57 am
Right, what mttourpro said - a "stride" type bass line, and a strong, syncopated melody over it. Stride bass lines are sort of a combination of the "oompah -pah" thing where you go back and forth between the 1 and the 5, and also a walking bass line in between the chords.

Cut time is where a fast meter is "cut" down to two half notes per measure with each receiving a beat - you are correct that it mainly comes from jazz. It's a device to be able to count at crazy fast tempos, like the kind found in lots of be-bop tunes. So, if say you had a song where the tempo was 240 bpm, set the metronome at 120 - each click is a half note getting one beat. At least, I'm pretty sure that's how to do it, it has been awhile since I had to play anything in cut time.

 #44194  by jjbankhead
 Thu May 22, 2008 12:12 pm
thanks guys i inherited a bunch of rag and old new orleans jazz CDs from my grandfather.

been listening to them and trying to figure out what the difference was between their sound and other forms of big band/ swing jazz i have heard..

 #44196  by mttourpro
 Thu May 22, 2008 12:26 pm
Tennessee Jedi wrote:But what if I play it on my 12 string ?
If you play it (well) on your Twelve string, you should be playing at carnegie hall... :smile:

wisedyes' explaination of cut time is right on.

 #44198  by Mick
 Thu May 22, 2008 12:47 pm
Cut time: This is reaching back to my trumpet days, but from what I remember, cut time's application is primarily just in how the music is written on the scale. I think everything that Wisedyes worte is correct, but just think of it differently.

4/4 time means that there are four beats per measure and a quarter note is assigned one beat. If we think of our metronome slowly clacking out 60 beats per minute, and we want to play 240 notes per minute, that means we are going to be writing in all sixteenth notes to get an even tempo at that pace. This gets cumbersome when writing because we are going to want to use a mixture of eigth, sixteenth and thirtysecond notes to say the least. We could double the beat count on the metronome and write at 120 beats per minute using quarter, eigth and sixteenth notes OR we can cut the time signature. Both end up having the same effect to the ear, but since writing thirtysecond notes and sixtyfourth notes quickly gets cumbersome, cut time becomes more common the faster the desired tempo of the piece.

Let me know if I have dorked this up too bad.

 #44211  by krzykat
 Thu May 22, 2008 8:21 pm
I would think that ramble on rose is an example of ragtime ("twenty verses in ragtime")

 #44215  by d-v-s
 Fri May 23, 2008 1:45 am
I think what makes rag sound so interesting is the fact that you have the bass beat going in beats of 2, while you play 3-note arpeggios over it. So you've got this weird overlapping of a 2 beat rhythm and a 3-beat rhythm.

I have a couple recordings of Mike Bloomfield (from "the root of blues" album) playing some amazing ragtime guitar by himself. It sounds like there's more than 1 guitar playing due to the overlapping rhythms.
 #75661  by LazyLightnin
 Fri Mar 12, 2010 6:57 am
ragtime on ... pe%3Aaudio

i can listen to these 78rpms all day long. love to turn 'em up on warm summer mornings. gives you that turn of the century (not this century) feel of americana you just cant find anywhere else. 8)