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“Maple Leaf Rag” by Scott Joplin

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    “Maple Leaf Rag” by Scott Joplin is a ragtime song.
    Recorded on a Pianola Roll actually played by Scott Joplin.

    Song Title: Maple Leaf Rag
    Artist: Scott Joplin
    Genre: ragtime jazz
    Composer: Copyright © 18 September 1899 Scott Joplin
    Piano: Scott Joplin
    Date:: 1899
    Number of listens: 7900
    Current rank: 964 (updated weekly)
    Highest rank: 960 (play the video all the way through to register a vote for this song)

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    Summary quotation from Wikipedia:

    

first edition cover
The “Maple Leaf Rag” (copyright registered 18 September 1899) is an early ragtime musical composition for piano composed by Scott Joplin. It was one of Joplin’s early works, and became the model for ragtime compositions by subsequent composers. It is one of the most famous of all ragtime pieces. As a result Joplin was called the “King of Ragtime”. The piece gave Joplin a steady if unspectacular income for the rest of his life.

    Despite ragtime’s decline after Joplin’s death in 1917, the “Maple Leaf Rag” continued to be recorded by many well-known artists. The Ragtime revival of the 1970s brought it back to mainstream public notice once again.

Background

third edition cover

    The “Maple Leaf Rag” is associated with the city of Sedalia, Missouri, though there is no record of Joplin having a permanent residence there before 1904. Joplin arrived in Sedalia in 1894 as a touring musician and stayed with the family of Arthur Marshall, who later became one of Joplin’s students and a ragtime composer in his own right. Joplin performed as a solo musician at dances and at the major black clubs in Sedalia, including the “Maple Leaf Club”. It is possible that the rag was named after the Maple Leaf Club, although there is no direct evidence to prove the link, and there were many other possible sources for the name in and around Sedalia at the time.

    Although there were hundreds of rags in print by the time of the “Maple Leaf Rag’s” publication, Joplin was not far behind. His first published rag was “Original Rags” (March 1899). The “Maple Leaf Rag” was already known in Sedalia prior to its publication in 1899; composer and pianist Brun Campbell claimed to have seen the manuscript of the work in around 1898. Prior to its publication, Joplin anticipated that the piece would be a success—he told Arthur Marshall that “The Maple Leaf will make me the king of ragtime composers”.

    The exact circumstances which led to publication of the “Maple Leaf Rag” are unknown, and there are versions of the event which contradict each other. After approaching several publishers, Joplin signed a contract with John Stillwell Stark on 10 August 1899 for a 1% royalty on all sales of the rag, with a minimum sales price of $0.25. The “Maple Leaf Rag” was published between 10 August and 20 September 1899, when the United States Copyright Office received two copies of the score.

    The rag was reissued in 1900 or 1901 with a new cover showing a green maple leaf and a photograph of Joplin. In 1903 Stark issued a “Maple Leaf Rag Song”, an arrangement of Joplin’s music with words by Sydney Brown.

Structure

AA BB A CC DD

    “Maple Leaf Rag” is a multi-strain ragtime march with athletic bass lines and offbeat melodies. Each of the four parts features a recurring theme and a striding bass line with copious seventh chords. The piece may be considered the ‘archetypal rag’ due to its influence on the genre; its structure was the basis for many other rags, including ‘Sensation’ by Joseph Lamb.

    It is more carefully constructed than almost all the previous rags, and the syncopations, especially in the transition between the first and second strain, were novel at the time.

    Generally, the piece is not considered difficult; however, one must have very good coordination in the left hand to perform the piece successfully, particularly for the Trio, which involves leaps of two octaves. When it was first published, it was considered significantly more difficult than the average Tin Pan Alley and early ragtime sheet music common at the time.

    The “Gladiolus Rag”, a later composition by Joplin, is a developed variant of the Maple Leaf Rag, showcasing Joplin’s increasing musical sophistication, and is usually played at a somewhat slower tempo. In addition, the first strain of both Joplin’s “The Cascades” and “Sugar Cane” are also similar to “Maple Leaf Rag”’s first strain.

Legacy

    There have been many claims about the sales of the “Maple Leaf Rag”, for example that 1 million copies of the sheet music were sold in the composer’s lifetime, making Scott Joplin the first musician to sell 1 million copies of a piece of instrumental music. Joplin’s first biographer Rudi Blesh wrote that during its first six months the piece sold 75,000 copies, and became “the first great instrumental sheet music hit in America”. However, research by Joplin’s later biographer Edward A. Berlin demonstrated that this was not the case; the initial print-run of 400 took one year to sell, and under the terms of Joplin’s contract with a 1% royalty would have given Joplin an income of $4, or approximately $110 in current value. Later sales were steady and would have given Joplin an income which would have covered his expenses; in 1909 estimated sales would have given him an income of $600 annually (approximately $15,331 in current prices).

—from Wikipedia (the Wikipedia:Text of Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License applies to Wikipedia’s block of text and possible accompanying picture, along with any alterations, transformations, and/or building upon Wikipedia’s original text that ThisSideofSanity.com applied to this block of text)

 
     

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