Scott Joplin, probably the most popular ragtime composer, made an important contribution into the development of this trend of music. His melodies are famous all over the world. Ā Though it was from 1899 till 1918 that there was a real craze for ragtime, today these tunes are well-known to people and are considered classical.
Scott Joplin was born in a musical family where parents played on musical instruments and sang. That is why, no wonder that since early childhood Scott played different tunes by ear and composed music himself.
Joplinplayed a major role in the establishment of ragtime. He changed people’s attitude to ragtime as to easy listening. When in 1899 his Maple Leaf Rag appeared, it was more profound and sophisticated than the earlier ragtime. Still ragtime occupied its particular niche in music and did not go beyond its frames. Scott Joplin aimed at the further development of the genre. Ragtime was played only by brass bands or dance bands, whileJoplinwanted ragtime to combine ragtime and opera. Hence, he even wrote several operas. One of them,Ā Treemonisha, was never played during his life, but was performed many times after it was discovered in 1970. His earlier opera, A Guest of Honor, was lost forever.
Probably, one of the most famousJoplin’s rags is “The Entertainer”¯. It was written in 1902 but reached the peak of popularity much later. It is a dance tune, which style is typical for rags of that time.
The tone of the piece is unobtrusive, light, brisk, and what is important, there is no tension, while listening to it. It is written in the key of C major, but there is a segment in F from bar 55.
The rhythm of the piece is light; it is played with a fast swing rhythm. These are flattened chords and blue notes that provide sensations in “The Entertainer”¯.
The melody is syncopated and is played an octave higher in reprises. There melodical accents are found between metrical beats.
The harmony of the piece seems rather tame if compared with the classical music, however the blue notes add the characteristic features of typical jazz style.
The form of the rag is A-B-A-C-D, it is a variation form, where the theme is followed by refrain, and then there is again a theme that is followed by improvisation.
The piece presents a typical ragtime tune that arose in African American musical communities and became popular throughoutAmerica.
To make a conclusion, Scott Joplin played a significant role in the development of ragtime as a genre and created eternal melodies that are popular till now despite being written in the beginning of the last century.