It's time for… ragtime! Get your thumb ready and download the tabs for Study No. 21 - Exciting Rag.
Before delving into the right hand movements, let's take a look at the harmony for this tune.
First eigth bars:
A | % | B7 | % | E7 | % | A | E7 ||
All of these chords are played on your well known first position. Although the melody adds some tensions on top of the regular dispositions, starting with the basic grips will get your hand ready for anything that comes –and will help you a lot in memorising the piece, as reading this kind of tunes isn't that easy.
The second section starts the same, but after the B7 moves to a E7 F7 E7 quick sequence that requires barres on the fourth and fifth fret. Back to your regular A major, then C#7 to go to the next section:
A | % | B7 | % | E7 F7 | E7 | A | C#7 ||
The bridge features a brief dominant cycle, always in home position:
F#7 | % | B7 | % | E7 | % | A | E7 ||
Last section is harmonically identical to the first (save for the missing eighth bar), although the E7 shifts positions up through the end (the no chord at the end is actually A, but we're not playing it).
A | % | B7 | % | E7 E7* | E7** | N.C. ||
I'd suggest to play through these changes a couple of times before attempting the piece.
The bass part is played by steady quarter thumb strokes alternating on the fourth and third strings. Let's get ready by playing the thumbs for the bridge section:
Except for bars 13-16 and 29-31, that's what your thumb will be doing.
The syncopated melody
Now's the time to start adding the syncopated melody. Most of it is played on the first string, you can use your finger or your middle for plucking the quarter and longer notes, alternating fingers whenever a eighth note appears. (Note than in my video the right hand fingering is suboptimal, I broke my index fingernail and my stroking precision was so diminished I felt more comfortable using just one finger.)
A new look at the sections
The four eigth bar sections are the sum of just 5 four bar phrases. I leave out most of the fingering, barre and position annotations on the repeats.
- Phrase α appears on bars 1-4, 9-12, and 25-28;
- Phrase β first appears on bars 5-8, and 21-24;
- Phrase γ appears on bars 13-16;
- Phrase δ appears on bars 17-20;
- Phrase ε appears on bars 29-31.
(Those greek symbols are actually the alpha, beta, gamma, delta, and epsylon greek letters.)
From the section stand point:
- Section A comprises phrases α and β;
- Section B comprises phrases α and γ;
- Section C comprises phrases δ and β;
- Section D comprises phrases α and ε.
I'd suggest to transcribe this information to your paper with colors, symbols or whatever results useful for you. You may also adding chord symbols or diagrams, I usually do on my study copies and my drafts.
I hope you have fun playing this piece! Share your performance!