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  • a.k.a.: The King of Ragtime
  • American
  • 1867 (?) - 1st April 1917
  • Ragtime composer and performer
  • You may know him for two compositions: The Entertainer and Maple Leaf Rag

We cannot be certain when Scott Joplin was born, but our best information seems to suggest either 1867 or 1868 in Texas.

Scott Joplin was born as the son of a slave into a society that had just been freed from slavery. The America he grew up in offered few choices for a black man, and even though black musicians were often seen in entertainment venues, they were not regarded as serious composers.

Scott Joplin showed musical talent at an early age, encouraged by a musical family. By 1894 Scott Joplin had settled in Sedalia, Missouri, where he taught, organised one of his many bands, played in clubs and had his second ever piece published. This composition, a ragtime entitled Maple Leaf Rag, became a hit in America as well as Europe. This was followed a few years later by The Entertainer, another well known Scott Joplin composition which was made famous in more recent times by its use in the the film The Sting. A record was released in the UK with a song called Treat Me Gently on the B side which seemed to be incidental music from The Sting. In fact this was part of a slow march that Scott Joplin had written entitled Solace.

With his newfound popularity, Scott Joplin started to travel and began focusing more on his ambition to be regarded as a serious composer. As a consequence he wrote a “serious” opera, Treemonisha, , the first ever grand opera to be composed by an African-American. On its premier it was badly received, probably being ahead of its time.

By the time of his death on the 1st of April 1917, Scott Joplin's music had sadly faded from popularity, but was to have a revival 50 years later. Its popularity is undiminished to this day.

Even though there are other ragtime composers, Joplin can easily be regarded as the King of Ragtime, having done more than anyone else to popularise this musical genre. The term rag-time was probably born out of the fact that the music had “ragged time”, i.e. the right hand used many syncopated rhythms.

Many scholars argue whether Scott Joplin is a “serious” composer or represents jazz, but this debate totally misses the point. Some people point to the fact that ragtimes have no improvisation, are completely written out and often follow the form of European marching band music. But on the other hand the rhythms of ragtime are very much inspired by the African continent, relying heavily on syncopation and the melodies certainly have little in common with European classical music. So like jazz, ragtime is the result of the meeting of European harmony, form and instruments with African rhythm, melody and sensibility.

All in all Scott Joplin produced some 60 compositions - a life's work for any inspiring pianist to learn.

Song Title Arrangements Image
A Breeze From Alabama 9
A Breeze From Alabama
Antoinette 2
Bethena, A Concert Waltz 1
Bethena, A Concert Waltz
Bethena Rag 1
Bethena Rag
Bethena, Ragtime Waltz 3
Bethena, Ragtime Waltz
Cleopha 3
Piano, Guitar TAB
Elite Syncopations 5
Elite Syncopations
Entertainer, The 1
Entertainer, The - Flute 1
Woodwind Solo
Entertainer, The - Piano/Score 1
Woodwind Solo
Eugenia 1
Euphonic Sounds 1
Euphonic Sounds
Felicity Rag 1
Felicity Rag
Fig Leaf Rag 3
Fig Leaf Rag
Heliotrope Bouquet 5
Piano, Guitar TAB
Heliotrope Bouquet
It's Ragtime! 3
Vocal, SAB, SATB
Its Ragtime!
Kismet 1
Guitar TAB
Kismet Rag 1
Kismet Rag
Magnetic Rag 6
Piano, Flute, Instrumental Solo
Magnetic Rag
Maple Leaf Rag 23
Piano, Guitar TAB, Banjo, Lead Sheet, Ukulele, Bass Guitar
Maple Leaf Rag
Miscellaneous Band Packs 339
Orchestra, Brass Band, Woodwind Solo, Brass Solo
Original Rags 5
Piano, Flute, Instrumental Solo, Woodwind Solo
Original Rags
Palm Leaf Rag 1
Palm Leaf Rag
Paragon Rag 1
Paragon Rag
Peacherine Rag 6
Piano, Ukulele
Peacherine Rag
Pine Apple Rag 5
Piano, Ukulele
Pine Apple Rag
Pleasant Moments 2
Piano, Guitar TAB
Pleasant Moments
Pleasant Moments (Ragtime Waltz) 2
Pleasant Moments (Ragtime Waltz)
Reflection Rag 1
Reflection Rag
Scott Joplin's New Rag 1
Scott Joplins New Rag
Solace 1
Solace (Enya) 2
Piano, PVG, Vocal, Guitar
Solace, A Mexican Serenade 3
Piano, Clarinet
Solace, A Mexican Serenade
Something Doing 2
Piano, Guitar TAB
Something Doing
Stoptime Rag 1
Stoptime Rag
Sunflower Slow Drag 1
Guitar TAB
Sunflower Slow Drag
Swipesy 2
Swipesy Cakewalk 1
Swipesy Cakewalk
The Augustan Club Waltz 1
The Augustan Club Waltz
The Cascades 4
The Cascades
The Chrysanthemum 3
The Chrysanthemum
The Easy Winners 13
Piano, Ukulele
The Easy Winners
The Entertainer (Scott Joplin - The Sting) 34
Piano, Alto Saxophone, Guitar TAB, Lead Sheet, Guitar, PVG, Vocal, Ukulele
The Entertainer
The Nonpareil 1
The Nonpareil
The Ragtime Dance 2
The Ragtime Dance
The Strenuous Life 4
Piano, Guitar TAB
The Strenuous Life
The Sycamore 1
The Sycamore
Theme from 'Gladiolus Rag' 1
Theme from Gladiolus Rag
Wall Street Rag (1909) 1
Wall Street Rag (1909)
Weeping Willow Rag 4
Piano, Guitar TAB
Weeping Willow Rag