John Gordon Armstrong

Canadian Composer


Two Rags for Two Guitars

Notes from the composer

Two Rags for Two Guitars is a set of Rags in the style of Scott Joplin. The impetus to write these arose from several sources: As as student of William Bolcom and William Albright at the University of Michigan, I was under the influence of two “serious” composers who composed and performed rags. Then in 1982, I did a short concert tour with William Beauvais, playing, among other music, two of his transcriptions of Joplin Rags. I felt the urge to try my hand at this compelling form and did so in the summer of 1983. These Rags have special significance in that they are my only complete pieces written with key signatures and in regular metres.

Two Rags for Two Guitars was premiered by Duo Toccata (guitar and accordion, believe it or not) at Hart House in Toronto on January 25, 1984 and broadcast by CBC Radio’s Arts National on May 25, 1984. They have since been performed by numerous guitar duos, both student and professional, throughout Canada.

Composed in 1983 for two guitars
Two Movements
Duration: 5 minutes
Student/Very Accessible