Richard Povall ‎– Impossible Rags

Frog Peak Music ‎– FP 005
CD, Album

Tracklist Hide Credits

Impossible Rags 30:32
1 Swipesy Cakewalk
Written-By – Arthur Marshall, Scott Joplin
2 Coon Hollow Capers
Written-By – Kerry Mills
3 From An Unknown Fragment 6:19
4 Blue Goose Rag
Written-By – Raymond Birch
5 Enclosure
Electronics [Live] – Richard Povall

Companies, etc.



Swipesy Cakewalk (1992, rev. 1995)
Coon Hollow Capers (1995)
from an Unknown Fragment (1995)
Blue Goose Rag (1995)

This suite of pieces can be performed in its entirety on two Yamaha Disklaviers — or played live with a MIDI piano or Disklavier accompaniment. This recording was realised on two SampleCells, using Digidesign's Yamaha CD samples.

<I>Impossible Rags</I> (1992-1995) is an exploration of a number of ragtime pieces: <I>Swipesy Cakewalk</I>, written in 1900 by Scott Joplin and Arthur Marshall; <I>Coon Hollow Capers</I>, written by Kerry Mills in 1899; <I>Blue Goose Rag</I>, a 1916 composition by Raymond Birch; and a fragment of an unknown slow rag probably written around the end of the 19th century. Ragtime was wildly popular for more than fifty years, beginning in the 1870s. Each of these rags exemplifies 'pure' ragtime, before the syncopations were smoothed out and regimented by the commerical pressures of the marketplace. I develop material using two different approaches: traditional decorations on the basic motifs, in which the piano becomes a hybridized, mechanically driven player-piano/carousel organ; and radical aleatoric and algorithmic reworkings of the original sources. These approaches are often used together, almost ironically parodying each other's clichés. It was of central importance to me that the essence of the original rags never be entirely lost. The suite is a personal tribute to the composer/piano-players of the 19th and early 20th centuries who created this enormously popular and sophisticated style.

The piece was made at the iEAR Studios at Rensselaeer Polytechnic Institute at Troy, New York, and at Dartington College of Arts, Devon, UK, and my own studio.

Enclosure (1995)

The MAX patch for <I>Enclosure</I> creates an interactive palette based on the original concrete sounds used in <I>The Last Garden</I>, an interactive performance. The performer has considerable latitude in the use of these materials, although a basic structure is outlined. This is not, however, an improvisation. The formal compositional decisions made within the interactive structure prescribe the kinds of material that can be used at any given time, and control the options available to the performer in creating the final piece. While performances can be radically different, an essential sonic and formal core is common to all realisations of <I>Enclosure</I>. The piece is based on the music from the first section of <I>The Last Garden</I>, a collaboration between Richard Povall (composition, video, and live electronics), John D. Mitchell (composition and live electronics), and Kathleen Smith (choreography). <I>The Last Garden</I> is a 70-minute piece, originally developed at the Institute for Studies in the Arts at Arizona State University (Tempe). <I>Enclosure</I> is a solo performance piece in its own right. A live video component, based on the original video material for <I>The Last Garden</I>, is under development.

This is a recording of a performance at Dartington Collage of Arts, UK.