[Dixielandjazz] the "trio" in Ragtime ?

Stanley A. Klein sklein at cpcug.org
Wed Jul 9 12:37:15 PDT 2008

On Wed, July 9, 2008 3:00 pm, "James O'Briant" <jobriant at garlic.com> wrote:

> Date: Wed, 9 Jul 2008 10:42:42 -0700
> From: "James O'Briant" <jobriant at garlic.com>
> Subject: Re: [Dixielandjazz] the "trio" in Ragtime ?
> To: "'Dixieland Jazz Mailing List'" <dixielandjazz at ml.islandnet.com>
> Cc: Dixieland Jazz Mailing List <dixielandjazz at ml.islandnet.com>

Does this structure also explain why many blues have 3 strains?

Stan Klein

> Mark Weber wrote, in part:
>> ... what is meant when  they refer to the "trio"
>> section of a ragtime composition?
> That's an answer that goes back to the baroque era, and then
> travels down through musical history.
> Rags are, in general, constructed in the same way as marches,
> which in turn have a structure similar to the minuet.  The minuet
> structure derived from other dance forms from the baroque era, the
> era of Bach, Handel, Scarlatti and others.
> As an example, let's use Sousa's "The Stars and Stripes Forever,"
> a march that most of us should know pretty well.  Here's the form
> of that march:
> 	Introduction
> 	"A" Strain (repeated)
> 	"B" Strain (repeated)
> 	"C1" Strain
> 		(this is the familiar "Hail to the Red,
> 		White and Blue" tune)
> 	Interlude
> 		(in marches, also called the "dogfight" or
> 		"break strain.")
> 	"C2" Strain
> 		(same tune as C1, but arranged differently. In
> this
> 		march, this is where you hear the piccolo
> obbligato)
> 	Interlude (again)
> 	(C2) Strain (again)
> So we have three main melodies, "A," "B" and "C."  Although there
> are exceptions, and although the precise structure varies, most
> marches, rags and minuets have this same general feature. (In
> addition, at least in most marches and rags, the "C" strain is in
> a different key, usually the subdominant key -- up a fourth or
> down a fifth from the preceding strains.)
> In many baroque era compositions, this "C" section was played by a
> smaller ensemble out of the orchestra -- usually a melody
> instrument, a harmony instrument and "basso continuo" (bass and
> keyboard, two instruments, but treated as one harmonic entity).
> This was done for textural contrast, as opposed to the full
> orchestra playing in earlier parts of the piece.
> With three entities -- melody, harmony and continuo, this section
> was often called the "trio" section.  Through the centuries the
> name has stuck.
> Thus, in a ragtime piece, there are usually three melodies (A, B &
> C), with or without introduction, and with or without interludes,
> and with or without the change of key. Sometimes "A" is repeated
> again following "B". Sometimes there's a fourth "D" section.
> Sometimes "A" or "B" is played again following "C" or "D", and
> they may be in the original key or they may be in the same key as
> "C" and "D".  But through all of this, "C" (and usually "D," if
> there is a "D") is the TRIO section of the piece.
> Jim O'Briant
> Gilroy, CA

More information about the Dixielandjazz mailing list