For the term 'rag' in classical Indian music, see Raga.

Joplin Scott Maple Leaf Rag. Download MP3 (2.68 Mo): interpretation (by Aubert, Francois) 4225x. My “Joplin Fave Five” album is now available on iTunes, Spotify, and Amazon music! Don't forget to subscribe! 🙏TikTok: 'Frogs Legs Rag' Instruments: Piano Feel: Bright, Bouncy James Scott composition. Download Uncompressed. ISRC: USUAN1900057 Uploaded: 2020-01-08. Scott Joplin was considered the “King of Ragtime Writers.” - music played in “ragged” or off-the-beat time. This varied rhythm developed from African American work songs, gospel tunes, and dance. Joplin wrote forty-four original piano pieces or rags, two operas, and one ragtime ballet. He also co-wrote seven rags with other composers.

Classic rag (short for classical ragtime) is the style of ragtime composition pioneered by Scott Joplin and the Missouri school of ragtime composers. These compositions were first considered 'classic' by Joplin's publisher, John Stark, as a way to distinguish them from what he considered the 'common' rags of other publishers. Today, any composition fitting this particular ragtime structural form is considered classic rag.

In the earliest days of ragtime, there was little consensus on how to print the syncopated melodies of ragtime, so there was considerable variety in the formatting of sheet music. Pieces appeared in common meter, in 4/4 time, and in 2/4 time, and often followed conventions of earlier musical forms such as the march. As the 20th century dawned most composers, arrangers, and publishers began to settle on a common set of notational and structural conventions, and because Scott Joplin was the best-selling ragtime composer in that era, his conventions eventually predominated. The 'classic rag' form can thus be considered a typical form of a ragtime piano composition, though it is by no means the only form.[citation needed]

Dario Ronchi plays the Maple Leaf Rag to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Scott Joplin's death.


In idealized form, the classic rag has the following structure:

Scott joplin ragtime dance
  • It is set in 2/4 time.
  • It starts with a four-bar introduction.
  • It continues with a pair of 16-bar themes, in the following sequence:
    • An initial theme (or A strain).
    • A repeat of the A strain.
    • A second theme (or B strain).
    • A repeat of the B strain.
    • A restatement of the A strain.
  • It concludes with a pair of 16-bar themes in the subdominant key (the key with one additional flat, or one less sharp), commonly called the trio, in the following sequence:
    • A third theme (or C strain).
    • A repeat of the C strain.
    • A fourth theme (or D strain).
    • A repeat of the D strain.

This can be written more succinctly as: INTRO AA BB A CC DD.

Few classic rags follow this idealized form, which is only a generalization; there are a number of standard variations:

  • The introduction may be longer or shorter than four bars, or may be omitted altogether.
  • The C and D strains may continue in the original key rather than use the subdominant key.
  • The D strain may return to the original key rather than stay in the subdominant key.
  • The D strain may be omitted altogether, or replaced with a restatement of the A or B strain.
  • Some repetitions of strains may be omitted, usually one of the repeats of the A strain.
  • Brief transitional phrases may be inserted between strains.

In the later years of ragtime, under the influence of Tin Pan Alley, a shorter three-strain form (omitting the D strain) became common.

Anatomy of a rag strain[edit]

Rag strains themselves have considerable structure. The treble clef (played by the right hand) typically contains the syncopated melodic theme, while the bass clef (the left-hand part) grounds this theme rhythmically with a regular, alternating pattern of eighth-notes (a walking bass).

The sixteen-bar strain is often structurally divided into 4 four-bar phrases, the third phrase repeating the first. There is considerable variation, though. Some composers (such as James Scott) made frequent use of two-bar phrases and others (such as Joseph Lamb) tended to employ eight-bar phrases.

Further reading[edit]

  • Jasen, David A.; Tichenor, Trebor J. (1978). Rags and Ragtime: A Musical History. New York: Seabury Press. ISBN978-0-8164-9341-8. OCLC3649875.
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Scott Joplin Rags

Scott Joplin was acknowledged, as “king of ragtime” in (1868-1917) he was a composer and pianist whose father had been a slave. Joplin was trained in classical music. Scott Joplin’s “Maple Leaf Rag” was published in 1899 with a March Tempo.
You can hear strong, steady chords in left-hand keeps the march beat going throughout the piece, while the right-hand plays a lively, syncopated melody against this steady beat. The sections are repeated in the usual pattern. The melody begins higher and moves down. The section is repeated. The opening section is played. The key is change too; there is a change in the right hand rhythmic; and left-hand leaps. Once again the section is repeated. Then it returns to the original key; strong final cadence and the section are repeated as the music comes to end.
I feel like this piece, he wanted to wow his audience. The impressive tempo and difficulty of the piece were his way of showing that ragtime was as legitimate as any other genre, regardless of its origins. Maple Leaf Rag is playful, fun, and yet oddly mature. The use of the lower notes against the high notes creates a contrast that feels like an adult borrowing childhood for a few moments. It makes me feel young again, and the fast-paced, quirky notes are a welcome break from the normal, more sober piano recital. I like this. This is why I say to people, tunes of the old days really do show intuition and good old-fashioned wisdom on how to play tunes.
Date: 1927 style New Orleans jazz form: 32-bar popular song
Personnel is Louis Armstrong, trumpet; Kid Ory, trombone; Johnny Dodds, clarinet; Lil Armstrong, piano; Lonnie Johnson, guitar.
The music begins with the whole band playing the New Orleans-style polyphony. The trombone plays simple single-note figures, while the clarinet is distantly in the background. Then a trumpet solo you hear the confident rhythm and occasional chatter. Then there’s a break the background drops out, and then the trumpet rips to a high note. The trumpet improvises broken up chord and shakes on long notes. There is another break the clarinet plays a solo during the break. The clarinet plays solo same