Edward Kennedy Ellington began his musical instruction at an early age. A young Duke, who was born to Daisy and James Ellington in April of 1899, began playing the piano after his mother wanted him to start; his family was already very musical. However, piano lessons did not go very well for him. Ellington simply became bored and did not want to continue playing. Later in his life as a teenager, Ellington decided to go back to playing the piano; around this time, he composed his first song entitled “Soda Fountain Rag” when he was only a young teenager (Lawrence 1-15). This piece was also called the “Poodle Dog Rag”, nick-named after the Poodle Dog Café where Ellington frequently performed the song. He never wrote the song down and often changed the tempo to appeal to different groups of dancers including the tango and the waltz (Tucker 34). It is interesting to think that the first song Ellington composed was on the piano, since he did not like playing the piano as a child. It is quite possible that he didn’t like the piano when he was younger because his mother wanted him to play it. Once Ellington was older and able to make more decisions for himself, he played... [continues]
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