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16 October 2017


Milton Ager, who lived from 1893 until 1979, was an important composer in the history of our music. He wrote dozens of well-known songs. Our bands still play Ain't She Sweet, I'm Nobody's Baby, Hard-Hearted Hannah, I Wonder What's Become of Sally, Big Bad Bill, and Happy Days are Here Again, to give just a few examples.

However, today I would like to highlight another of his tunes - Glad Rag Doll.
In its Chorus, Glad Rag Doll has a conventional Middle Eight, which offers a really good demonstration of the effectiveness of the 'Circle of Fifths'.

To begin with, the Middle Eight's first chord is III7 (for example E7th in the key of C). This happens in the Middle Eight of dozens of our tunes.

And over the eight bars, we find two bars on each of the 'Circle of Fifth' chords as we head towards the usual V7th.

To make clear what I am trying to explain, the result (in the key of C) is:

E7 | E7 | A7 | A7 | D7 | D7 | G7 | G7

How does it sound? Surprisingly effective, in this and a huge number of other tunes our bands play.

If you listen to this early Ted Lewis recording (CLICK ON HERE), you can sample the Middle Eight between 39 seconds and 52 seconds (where it is led by the trombone) and between 1 minute 40 seconds and 1 minute 51 seconds (with vocalist) and finally between 2 minutes 29 seconds and 2 minutes 41 seconds (led by the clarinet).