Folio: First Blush and Other Syncopated Tunes
Sheet Music: Powerhouse Rag
Sheet Music: Sweetpea Serenade
Dale Hadley, composer
Folio contents: First Blush / Trepidation Tango / Plaintive Rag / Tranquility Rag / My Hero / Rough Rider Rag / Industrial Rag / That Blossom Rag.
On her CD, “Ragtime Reflections” (HVR 0602), Sue Keller included My Hero by Dale Hadley. I was quite taken with that piece and even asked in my review, “Who is Hadley, anyway?” My question was answered by Hadley himself, who promptly sent me the sheet music to ten of his compositions.
The folio opens with First Blush, a slow opus in the Key of G which shifts to the harmonic minor (B-flat) for the B-section before returning to G and then moving on to close in C. The piece is richly chorded, featuring melodies in thirds in the A-section, and is reminiscent of early classic ragtime. Trepidation Tango opens mysteriously in E-minor, moving quickly to G-major in the B-section, then jumping up a half-step to A-flat for the trio and the D-section. Hadley’s contrasts from major to minor and vice versa add much interest to this piece.
Plaintive Rag ultimately became my favorite, with its repeated note highlighting a bass that is almost devoid of chords. Written in E-flat throughout, it is haunting in its simplicity. Tranquility Rag, written in F and moving to B-flat for the trio, is to be played a bit faster than the first three numbers and is a solid rag in the nostalgic vein. My Hero, the piece that may bring Hadley the recognition he deserves (thanks to Keller’s recording), opens in B-flat, moving to E-flat in the last two sections. The fugue-like passages in the B- and C-sections add enjoyable contrast to the lush chording elsewhere in this composition which, more than the others, evokes the John Stark term, “classic rag.”
Rough Rider Rag belies its name, being more of a light-hearted stroll instead. Written entirely in G, it is quite short, using just an A-A-B-B-A format, and quite simple in its construction. Industrial Rag, by contrast, is more complex. Its key is B-flat, moving to a unsyncopated trio in E-flat before restoring syncopation in the D-section. That Blossom Rag, keyed in C throughout, is straightforward and pleasant with no major surprises. Sweetpea Serenade is subtitled “A Ragtime Lullaby,” which is an apt description. Its tinkly opening in B-flat evokes images of sleeping babes and the trio and beyond with resonant chording in E-flat continues the sense of tranquility. (Hadley did not furnish a recording of Powerhouse Rag, but it appears similar in style and texture to the rest and is in the keys of F and B-flat.)
These compositions are bursting with melody and are well within the capabilities of the intermediate pianist (some may even be suited for advanced beginners). All are professionally typeset and spiral bound. Dale Hadley writes appealing rags with enough clever innovations to set them apart. There is much fertile ground here for the player who is seeking new pieces that should be easily mastered and will provide continued enjoyment.
The folio is $15.00, the two singles are $3.00 each, or all ten may be
had for $20.00 (all prices are plus shipping).
Order from Dale Hadley,