Scott Joplin By Philip Carron Music 1010-045
Biography • Born in Northeast Texas sometime between June 1867- January 1868 • Born to former slaves, Florence and Giles, who instructed him early in all things musical • First formal piano teacher was Julius Weiss who taught him basic music instruction and appreciation of European classical music. • Died April 1, 1917
Early Career • Went to high school and began career in Sedalia, MO • In 1893 performed in Chicago at the World’s Fair • First published Rag was “Original Rags” • Best known for “Maple Leaf Rag”
Later Career • First Opera was called A Guest of Honor. Resulted in serious financial difficulty • Second Opera, Treemonisha never received full theatrical staging during his life • Suffered mental breakdown • Died in 1917 of tertiary syphylis
Legacy • Composed more than 44 songs, a ragtime ballet, and two operas • Known throughout his life as the “King of Ragtime” • Posthumously won the Pulitzer Prize in 1976 for his second musical, Treemonisha • “Maple Tree Rag” may be the first instrumental music to sell 1 million copies
Composition History • Maple Leaf Rag • The Entertainer • Original Rags • The Ragtime Dance
Maple Leaf Rag • Far from the first rag published, but arguably the most famous • Became a standard for future ragtime composers • Possibly the first instrumental piece of music to sell 1 million copies
The Entertainer • Published by John Stark in 1902 • Wasn’t “immortalized” until the ragtime revival of the 1970’s • Featured Academy-Award winning film The Sting
Original Rags • Joplin’s first published rag • Published by Carl Hoffman • Charles Daniels, a close friend of Hoffman, was given credit as an arranger though debate exists surrounding his contribution
The Ragtime Dance • Published in two different arrangements • Publication delayed because of the publisher’s doubt of its commercial success • End up being a flop commercially
Maple Leaf Rag • 0:00 1: Section A- Characterized by the syncopation in the right hand and the almost polka-like chords bouncing around played by the left hand, the first section of the melody is in major key, cheerful sounding and up-beat. • 0:10 i: The right and left hands join in an arpeggio-like scale of the keys, keeping the same syncopated rhythm but switching to a minor form briefly. • 0:15 ii: The arpeggio crescendos and reaches a peak and reverts back to major form with several triumphant-sounding chords and a resolution. • 0:20 iii: Section ii is repeated exactly except right hand is played one octave lower than it was previously. • 0:24 iv: Repeat of section 1 completely. The form of most of Joplin’s songs and indeed most ragtime songs follows this pattern of form with each section repeating at least once. • 0:42 2: Section B- The right hand plays acrobatically an octave higher than in section 1, while the left hand keeps the same form playing straight chords keeping the beat without any syncopation except for occasional small embellishments as the pickup notes. • 0:54 i: Left and right hands join together in unison both hands playing in octaves with a total range of four octaves playing descending notes. • 0:56 ii: The minor form is picked up again briefly until the section again resolves in major form • 1:00 iii: Section B is repeated completely with the right hand playing an octave higher than previously • 1:16 Section A is repeated once again. • 1:35 3: Section C- Instead of the acrobatic fingering played during the first two sections, the right hand now plays bright, joyful sounding chords syncopated over top the same bass foundation • 1:38 i: The acrobatic fingering comes back briefly leading into a repeat of the chords played at the beginning of the section • 1:42 ii: The fingering is played again followed by more chords played just a key higher than the previous chords and then more fingering in the same higher key. • 1:48 iii: Section C descends down to its resolution and then immediately into a complete repeat of Section C • 2:10 Section D- The fourth and final theme is introduced, very similar sounding to section C beginning with chords played in the right hand syncopated against the bass line and then difficult fingering and transferring back and forth between the two. • 2:28 i: Section D is repeated
The Entertainer • 0:00 Introduction: First the right hand plays in octaves, descending a couple octaves and the left hand joins in and plays in unison and ends in an authoritative single chord • 0:05 Section A- The song extends straight into section A with the bass hand playing mostly descending straight eighth notes and the right hand switching back and forth between straight and syncopated notes in major key. • 0:12 i: The beginning of section A is repeated with some variance at 0:14 with the right hand playing descending notes instead of ascending. • 0:17 ii: The theme is repeated once more • 0:24 iii: A variation of the first theme plays repeating itself twice and then resolving. • 0:30 Section A is repeated completely • 0:53 Section B- The bass line keeps the same foundational form while the right hand plays a more understated ascending melody in octaves and then arches back down to its starting point • 0:59 i: The second theme is repeated with a slightly different ending. The whole theme then repeats exactly the same until about halfway through until it diverts into a slightly minor bar • 1:09 ii: The section ends playing ascending major chords until its resolution. • 1:16 iii: Section B is repeated completely with the right hand playing an octave higher than before • 1:40 Section A is repeated again. • 2:03 Section C- The song, previously played in C major modulates the subdominant F major for section C and switches back and forth between loud chords played in the right hand and ascending runs leading up to more loud chords • 2:08 i: Section C ends with a minor key variation being resolved again the F major finish. • 2:15 ii: The section repeats with another variation at the end and then the entire section repeats completely. • 2:47 An interesting second intro is played leading in the fourth and final section • 2: 53 Section D- Section D sounds very similar to section C except that through the second introduction the key is modulated back to C major. • 3:15 i: The fourth and final section is repeated again.
Original Rags • 0:00 Introduction- Both hands play in unison octaves in a descending melody beginning in a minor form • 0:05 ii: Still playing homophonically, both hands now play in descending major chords until their resolution and the beginning of the first section • 0:09 Section A- Following the same pattern as the other two songs, the bass line plays a simple even beat with the treble line syncopated over top of it. This section of the song is played in G major. • 0:14 i: The section A variant is played, with the beginning of the section sounding the same as the beginning of Section A and ending slightly different leading into a descending intro to a second repeat of Section A and a second variant. • 0:28 ii: Repeat of Section A • 0:49 Section B: Section B is played on higher notes in the right hand with a slight increase in volume giving the song a bright, excited feeling and keeping the same rhythm pattern as the previous sections • 1:05 i: Repeat Section B • 1:23 Section C: Instead of following the pattern of many other rags and using a musical structure of AA BB A CC DD, Joplin’s first rag goes straight into a third section with a key modulation to C major. This section has a melody that includes many arch forms and ascending structures. • 1:40 i: Section C repeats with a slight variance at the end leading into the next section. • 1:57 Repeat Section A • 2:18 Section D- The right hand switches back to playing lower notes and the key again modulates to D major. • 2:34 i: Section D repeats
The Ragtime Dance • This song is played on piano. • 0:00 Introduction: Only the treble line plays in a simple, ascending, major melody in octaves until it ends with the bass line in a major chord in the key of B-flat major. • 0:05 Section A- This song follows the same form as the other rags examined with the left hand performing a steady foundation over which the right hand plays a more embellished syncopated melody. This song has a more classical tone than the previous ones. • 0:27 i: Repeat Section A • 0:48 Section B- The song now modulates to E-flat major instead of B-flat major. Various measures have the melody instead play in minor key but then revert back to major key. The right hand plays in a lower, more low-key manner than the previous exuberant Section A. • 1:00 i: Repeat Section B with a slight variance at the end that finishes in an air of finality with a couple strong chords. • 1:10 ii: Repeat Section B completely. At the end of the section the same notes are repeated several times leading into the next section • 1:31 Section C- The right hand again plays higher notes and the section ends again with several notes being played in rapid succession. • 2:05 i: Repeat Section C. • 2: 13 Section D- Section D is unique because it uses a technique called “Stop-time.” While using the stop-time technique, the pianist is instructed to stamp the heel of their foot on the ground in time with the beat. • 2:35 Section E- This song has an uncharacteristically large amount of different sections. This section is characterized by the right and left hands playing again in unison octaves in a descending scale. The stop-time technique is still used. • 2:56 Section F- The final section is played. The pianist is still instructed to use the stop-time technique until the end of the song. The section repeats its melody several times with little variants at the end until the end of the song when there are two beats of full silence and then two chords signifying the end of the song.
Works Cited • Albrecht, Theodore (1979). Julius Weiss: Scott Joplin's First Piano Teacher. 19. Case Western Univ. College Music Symposium. pp. 89–105. • Blesh, Rudi (1981). "Scott Jopin: Black-American Classicist". In Lawrence, Vera Brodsky. Scott Joplin Complete Piano Works. • Ferrin, Craig E. Listen to the Music. Kendall Hunt Publishing Company, 2009.