Scott Joplin Sheet Music

Written by Serena Berger
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Finding Scott Joplin sheet music can help introduce both players and listeners to one of our great national treasures: the exhilarating ragtime music of the composer considered to be the best in the genre. Joplin has been dubbed the King of Ragtime; and unlike the erstwhile King of Pop, he didn't give himself the name. This vital, exciting genre of music developed in America and had its heyday from the turn of the century though the beginning of World War I; Joplin was one of the most beloved performers of his day, and has become the most remembered of the ragtime composers.

Ragtime has been called a jazz form, but some scholars, musicians, and critics dispute that and call it a classical form. Joplin was trained in classical music, and felt strongly that ragtime at its best was a classical genre. In his own opinion, a ragtime opera called Treemonisha was his greatest accomplishment. Sadly, he bankrupted himself trying to bring this work to the stage, as ragtime was declining in popularity and the world at large was unconvinced of the merits of a ragtime opera. Joplin died in 1917, a full 20 years before George Gershwin's jazz opera Porgy and Bess successfully melded an essentially African-America musical form with the European operatic aesthetic and gained the public's acceptance.

Scott Joplin Sheet Music

Often, people looking for Scott Joplin sheet music are looking for "The Entertainer," his single most famous piano rag. Interestingly, it was the movie The Sting which came out in 1973 that got people enthusiastic about this piece. Prior to the release of that movie, "The Entertainer" was no more popular than any of Joplin's other classics, particularly "The Maple Leaf Rag," named for the dance hall where he made most of him money playing.

Scott Joplin sheet music, then, in its original form is likely either to be a piano rag, or an operatic score. Enterprising arrangers, however, have worked up versions of these tunes for all different instruments and ensembles. While the two hands playing different rhythms can be difficult to master as an intermediate pianist, an arrangement for a solo instrument where the player has only to play the syncopated melody while an accompanist plays the even-duple counterpart can be attempted by a relative beginner.


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