The Neglected

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Ragtime and Rhetoric: William Bolcom, "The Garden of Eden, III. The Serpents Kiss"

William Bolcom’s The Garden of Eden is a set of four piano rags, completed by Bolcom in 1969. Illustrating an abstract narrative from the Abrahamic Genesis-creation, the four rags encapsulate Bolcom’s third-stream Americana style, incorporating into a virtuosic piano piece intense melodic, harmonic, and formal composition with traditional rag rhythms, chromaticism, and expressive nuance. While the four rags of The Garden of Eden present a diversity of musical styles, it is in the “rag fantasy,” The Serpent’s Kiss, that Bolcom makes his most interesting use of form, incorporating many contemporary compositional idioms over a traditional rag template. A modification of the Sousa march, the ra

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- Jordan Alexander Key -

Composer, Musicologist, Organist, Bagpiper

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