Scott Joplin: The Maple Leaf Rag


The Maple Leaf Rag


Scott Joplin (piano)


The Greatest Ragtime of the Century (Shout Factory 30160)

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Scott Joplin (piano).

Composed by Scott Joplin


Recorded: Piano roll made at an unknown location, April 16, 1916


Rating: 99/100 (learn more)

From 1899-1917, as jazz gestated in uterine New Orleans, ragtime (contraction of "ragged time") was America's liveliest music. Near the end of its reign, but before the coronation of acoustic recording, Scott Joplin committed his sheet-music bestseller "Maple Leaf Rag" (1899) to piano roll, whereby perforated paper mechanically reproduces a musical performance. To modern ears, the noises of this toilsome contraption are distracting, rather like a milkman's horse-drawn wagon clopping through deserted cobblestone streets at dawn. But when the delivery includes "Maple Leaf Rag," who's complaining? Combining stately rhythms with irreverent syncopation, Joplin made jazz inevitable. A landmark.

Reviewer: Alan Kurtz

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