Scott Joplin's Ragtime Music Essay

939 words - 4 pages

The music created by the legendary Scott Joplin can be heard everywhere around the world even to this day. Many of his works are immediately recognizable to millions of people, including myself. I was not even aware that I knew any of Scott Joplin’s masterpieces but I certainly did. The composition entitled The Entertainer has been featured countless times in movies and games that I have experienced and its catchy beat was cemented in my mind (IMDb). Joplin was the king of the ragtime musical genre, and his name is synonymous with that period of music.
Ragtime music is described as having a syncopated or “ragged” rhythm, and that is exactly how Scott Joplin’s music sounds. The music he writes sounds to me like upbeat but light piano music. The music is not classical and dramatic; it is hoppy and sometimes delicate. All of it however has a strange but incredibly catchy beat or tune. I wasn’t sure if I would like ragtime music because I thought that I had never heard any before, and since its origins are from the early 1900s. However, I had heard ragtime music before and just hadn’t realized it, and I liked it a lot. Something about the beat of the music made it easily get stuck in your head and I found myself singing the beat to The Entertainer over and over in my head.
Scott Joplin was born in eastern Texas and raised in a town called Texarkana; the date of his birth though, is under debate. It was originally thought that he was born on November 24, 1868, but later research indicates that his birthday was more likely some time in the second half of 1867 (Berlin). He was the second child born to Giles Joplin and Florence Givins of their six children. He was of African decent and his father was a liberated slave, meaning that Joplin was part of the first generation of free African Americans. His family was musically inclined and his first experience with the piano, his instrument of choice, was at the age of seven when a white family allowed him to use theirs. Later in his life, Scott Joplin’s father deserted his family as he chased after another woman. Left with just his mother, Joplin continued to hone his piano skills by practicing on the pianos of his mother’s employers when there was one present in their homes. Eventually, he attended school and was instructed in music by a German immigrant named Julius Weiss. Weiss was the one who introduced Joplin to the genre of classical music and further helped Joplin’s talent by aiding him in the acquisition of a piano of his own (Berlin). Scott started playing at church events and social gatherings, either performing popular music of the time or improvising his own. When Joplin finally...

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