A ragtime homage to Scott Joplin’s “Solace – A Mexican Serenade” composed between 1993 and 2009 by Arthur Breur.
The piece was composed in reverse order: the final section (D) was composed first, in the early 1990s. About 15 years later I decided the piece needed to be finished, and started working backwards, trying to give each new section its own unique, memorable personality.
The third section (C) was composed with the word “solace” written into the notes, and with an intentionally Mexican feel. I allowed the syncopation to rest in this section to let the melody have its freedom, but intentionally included the parallel chords used in the (D) section.
The (B) section is the “Fred & Ginger” section—I specifically used two parallel notes to get the feel of two people, dancing together first one direction, then another. I also stretched the 2-note harmonies as far as I felt I could to make the section stand out. The second half of the (B) section is my closest reference to Scott Joplin’s Solace, with the melody accompanied by steady notes, though I kept the feel of a duet here as much as possible. This section also provided the opportunity to use sliding harmonies as used by Joplin in the original Solace.
The first section needed to tonally separate the (B) and (C) sections, and, to my mind, needed to include the sliding harmonies to connect to the (B) section. The (A) section also contains reference to my first ragtime, Kiwi Rag. I intentionally pulled the starting chord to C7 to bring the melody one step farther away from the final B-flat key, though still keeping the entire piece as one overall chord progression.
As to why this piece was composed, my sister, Margie, long ago negotiated with me that she got to have one piece that she could play that I would (and therefore COULD) never play. This was because, with my piano training, I could play any piece that I wanted, and she wanted to have a piece that was hers alone. When, years later, she caught me sight reading Solace, she reminded me of this agreement—at which point I thought to myself, “Fine, I’ll compose my own.” Which brings us back to the (D) section mentioned above. When I created this palendromic melody (the intervals are the same in either direction, up or down) I immediate noticed the Latin feel and decided this was the finale melody for MY Mexican serenade.