The Entertainer (rag)

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The Entertainer
by Scott Joplin
EntertainerJoplinCover.JPEG
First edition cover of "The Entertainer"
GenreRagtime
Form Ragtime two step
Published1902 (1902)
PublisherJohn Stark & Son
Duration3:53
Instrument: Piano solo

"The Entertainer" is a 1902 classic piano rag written by Scott Joplin. [1] It was sold first as sheet music, and in the 1910s as piano rolls that would play on player pianos. [1] The first recording was by blues and ragtime musicians, the Blue Boys in 1928, played on mandolin and guitar. [1]

Classic rag 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.

Scott Joplin American composer, musician, and pianist

Scott Joplin was an American composer and pianist. Joplin achieved fame for his ragtime compositions and was dubbed the King of Ragtime. During his brief career, he wrote 44 original ragtime pieces, one ragtime ballet, and two operas. One of his first and most popular pieces, the "Maple Leaf Rag", became ragtime's first and most influential hit, and has been recognized as the archetypal rag.

Player piano piano that can play prerecorded works

A player piano is a self-playing piano, containing a pneumatic or electro-mechanical mechanism that operates the piano action via programmed music recorded on perforated paper, or in rare instances, metallic rolls, with more modern implementations using MIDI. The rise of the player piano grew with the rise of the mass-produced piano for the home in the late 19th and early 20th century. Sales peaked in 1924, then declined as the improvement in phonograph recordings due to electrical recording methods developed in the mid-1920s. The advent of electrical amplification in home music reproduction via radio in the same period helped cause their eventual decline in popularity, and the stock market crash of 1929 virtually wiped out production.

Contents

As one of the classics of ragtime, it returned to international prominence as part of the ragtime revival in the 1970s, when it was used as the theme music for the 1973 Oscar-winning film The Sting . Composer and pianist Marvin Hamlisch's adaptation reached #3 on the Billboard pop chart and spent a week at #1 on the easy listening chart in 1974. [2] The Sting was set in the 1930s, a full generation after the end of ragtime's mainstream popularity, thus giving the inaccurate impression that ragtime music was popular at that time.

Ragtime – also spelled rag-time or rag time – is a musical style that enjoyed its peak popularity between 1895 and 1919. Its cardinal trait is its syncopated or "ragged" rhythm.

Theme music is a piece that is often written specifically for a radio program, television program, video game, or movie and is usually played during the intro, opening credits, and/or ending credits.

Academy Awards American awards given annually for excellence in cinematic achievements

The Academy Awards, also officially and popularly known as the Oscars, are awards for artistic and technical merit in the film industry. Given annually by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS), the awards are an international recognition of excellence in cinematic achievements as assessed by the Academy's voting membership. The various category winners are awarded a copy of a golden statuette, officially called the "Academy Award of Merit", although more commonly referred to by its nickname "Oscar". The statuette depicts a knight rendered in Art Deco style.

The Recording Industry Association of America ranked it #10 on its "Songs of the Century" list. [1]

Recording Industry Association of America Trade organization representing the recording industry in the U.S.

The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) is a trade organization that represents the recording industry in the United States. Its members consist of record labels and distributors, which the RIAA says "create, manufacture and/or distribute approximately 85% of all legally sold recorded music in the United States." The RIAA headquarters is in Washington, D.C.

The "Songs of the Century" list is part of an education project by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), the National Endowment for the Arts, and Scholastic Inc. that aims to "promote a better understanding of America's musical and cultural heritage" in American schools. Hundreds of voters, who included elected officials, people from the music industry and from the media, teachers, and students, were asked in 2001 by the NEA and the RIAA to choose the top 365 songs of the 20th century with historical significance in mind. RIAA selected the voters, and about 15% (200) of the 1,300 selected voters responded.

Music

"The Entertainer" is sub-titled "A Rag Time Two Step", which was a form of dance popular until about 1911, and a style which was common among rags written at the time.

Two-step (dance move) dance move

The two-step is a step found in various dances, including many folk dances.

Its structure is: Intro–AA–BB–A–CC–Intro2–DD. [3]

It is primarily set in the key of C major; however, for the C section (commonly referred to as the 'Trio'), it modulates to the subdominant, F major, then through a transitional passage modulates back to C major for the D section. The B section contains an indication that the melody is to be played an octave higher on the repeat.

C major tonality

C major is a major scale based on C, with the pitches C, D, E, F, G, A, and B. C major is one of the most common key signatures used in western music. Its key signature has no flats and no sharps. Its relative minor is A minor and its parallel minor is C minor.

Modulation (music) in music

In music, modulation is the change from one tonality to another. This may or may not be accompanied by a change in key signature. Modulations articulate or create the structure or form of many pieces, as well as add interest. Treatment of a chord as the tonic for less than a phrase is considered tonicization.

Modulation is the essential part of the art. Without it there is little music, for a piece derives its true beauty not from the large number of fixed modes which it embraces but rather from the subtle fabric of its modulation.

In music, the subdominant is the fourth tonal degree of the diatonic scale. It is so called because it is the same distance below the tonic as the dominant is above the tonic – in other words, the tonic is the dominant of the subdominant. It also happens to be the note one step below the dominant. In the movable do solfège system, the subdominant note is sung as fa.

In the June 7, 1903, St. Louis Globe-Democrat , contemporary composer Monroe H. Rosenfeld described "The Entertainer" as "the best and most euphonious" of Joplin's compositions to that point. "It is a jingling work of a very original character, embracing various strains of a retentive character which set the foot in spontaneous action and leave an indelible imprint on the tympanum." [3]

The St. Louis Globe-Democrat was originally a daily print newspaper based in St. Louis, Missouri, from 1852 until 1986. When the trademark registration on the name expired, it was reincarnated as an unrelated free historically themed paper.

Tympanum (anatomy) external hearing structure in animals

The tympanum is an external hearing structure in animals such as mammals, birds, some reptiles, some amphibians and some insects.

Suggested by the rag's dedication to "James Brown and his Mandolin Club", author Rudi Blesh wrote that "some of the melodies recall the pluckings and the fast tremolos of the little steel-stringed plectrum instruments". [4] Stark issued an arrangement of the piece for two mandolins and a guitar. [3]

Publication history

The copyright on "The Entertainer" was registered December 29, 1902, along with two other Joplin rags, "A Breeze from Alabama" and "Elite Syncopations", all three of which were published by John Stark & Son of St. Louis, Missouri. [3] The centerpiece of the original cover art featured a minstrel show caricature of an African-American man in formal attire on a theater stage.

Popularity and legacy

In November 1970, Joshua Rifkin released a recording called Scott Joplin: Piano Rags [5] on the classical label Nonesuch, which featured as its second track "The Entertainer". It sold 100,000 copies in its first year and eventually became Nonesuch's first million-selling record. [6] The Billboard "Best-Selling Classical LPs" chart for September 28, 1974 has the record at #5, with the follow-up Volume 2 at #4, and a combined set of both volumes at #3. Separately both volumes had been on the chart for 64 weeks. [7] The album was nominated in 1971 for two Grammy Award categories, Best Album Notes and Best Instrumental Soloist Performance (without orchestra), but at the ceremony on March 14, 1972, Rifkin did not win in any category. [8] In 1979 Alan Rich in the New York Magazine wrote that by giving artists like Rifkin the opportunity to put Joplin's music on disk, Nonesuch Records "created, almost alone, the Scott Joplin revival." [9]

Marvin Hamlisch lightly adapted and orchestrated Joplin's music for the 1973 film The Sting , for which he won an Academy Award for Best Original Song Score and Adaptation on April 2, 1974. [10] His version of "The Entertainer" reached #3 on the Billboard Hot 100 and the American Top 40 music chart on May 18, 1974, [11] [12] prompting The New York Times to write, "the whole nation has begun to take notice." [13] Thanks to the film and its score, Joplin's work became appreciated in both the popular and classical music worlds, becoming (in the words of music magazine Record World ), the "classical phenomenon of the decade." [14] In the United States, "The Entertainer" is one of many songs commonly played by ice cream trucks to attract attention. [15]

See also

Related Research Articles

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Joseph Lamb American composer of ragtime music

Joseph Francis Lamb was an American composer of ragtime music. Lamb, of Irish descent, was the only non-African American of the "Big Three" composers of classical ragtime, the other two being Scott Joplin and James Scott. The ragtime of Joseph Lamb ranges from standard popular fare to complex and highly engaging. His use of long phrases was influenced by classical works he had learned from his sister and others while growing up, but his sense of structure was potentially derived from his study of Joplin's piano rags. By the time he added some polish to his later works in the 1950s, Lamb had mastered the classic rag genre in a way that almost no other composer was able to approach at that time, and continued to play it passably as well, as evidenced by at least two separate recordings done in his home, as well as a few recorded interviews.

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Maple Leaf Rag rag by Scott Joplin

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<i>Scott Joplin: Piano Rags</i> 1970 studio album by Joshua Rifkin

Scott Joplin: Piano Rags is a 1970 ragtime piano album, consisting of compositions by Scott Joplin played by Joshua Rifkin, on the Nonesuch Records label. The original album's cover states the name as Piano Rags by Scott Joplin, as contrasting the album's spine. The record is considered to have been the first to reintroduce the music of pianist and composer Joplin in the early 1970s. It was Nonesuch Records' first million-selling album.

Max Morath is an American ragtime pianist, composer, actor, and author. He is best known for his piano playing and is referred to as "Mr. Ragtime". He has been a touring performer as well as being variously a composer, recording artist, actor, playwright, and radio and television presenter. Rudi Blesh billed Morath as a "one-man ragtime army".

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References

  1. 1 2 3 4 Sullivan, Steve (May 12, 2017). Encyclopedia of Great Popular Song Recordings. 3. Rowman & Littlefield. pp. 32–33.
  2. Whitburn, Joel (2002). Top Adult Contemporary: 1961–2001. Record Research. p. 110. ISBN   0-89820-149-7.
  3. 1 2 3 4 Jasen, David A.; Trebor Jay Tichenor (1978). Rags and Ragtime: A Musical History . New York: Dover. pp. 89–90. ISBN   0-486-25922-6.
  4. Rudi Blesh, p. xxiv, "Scott Joplin: Black-American Classicist", Introduction to Scott Joplin Collected Piano Works, New York Public Library, 1981
  5. "Scott Joplin Piano Rags Nonesuch Records CD (w/bonus tracks)". Nonesuch.com. Retrieved March 19, 2009.
  6. "Nonesuch Records". Nonesuch.com. Retrieved March 19, 2009.
  7. Billboard 1974a, p. 61.
  8. LA Times n.d.
  9. Rich 1979.
  10. "Entertainment Awards Database". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on January 18, 2012. Retrieved March 14, 2009.
  11. "Charis Music Group, compilation of cue sheets from the American Top 40 radio Show" (PDF). Retrieved September 5, 2009.
  12. Billboard 1974b, p. 64.
  13. Kronenberger, John (August 11, 1974). "The Ragtime Revival—A Belated Ode to Composer Scott". The New York Times.
  14. Record World Magazine. July 1974, quoted in: Berlin, Edward A. (1996). King of Ragtime: Scott Joplin and His Era, p. 251.
  15. Neely, Daniel Tannehill (Spring 2005). "Soft Serve: Charting the aural promise of ice cream truck music" (PDF). Esopus 4. New York City, New York: 28. Archived from the original (PDF) on February 5, 2009.

Sources