The Maple Leaf Rag, 1899–1900

Edward A. Berlin

in King of Ragtime

Published in print March 1996 | ISBN: 9780195101089
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199853120 | DOI:
                   The Maple Leaf Rag, 1899–1900

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Scott Joplin worked with both the ragtime song and the instrumental rag, but it was with the latter that he reached greatness. Instrumental rag evolved from joining the syncopated ragtime rhythms with the form and regular duple pulsations of the march. This combination of elements points to the dance origins of ragtime. The Maple Leaf Rag is Joplin's most important composition and the best-known instrumental rag of the period. This composition made Joplin's reputation and gave him income that changed the conditions of his life; however, it is not certain precisely how the publication came about. In this chapter the author argues that Joplin was not the sole composer of Maple Leaf Rag. It has also been speculated that the choice of the word “maple” in the title has links with Canada — the goal of black slaves escaping to freedom.

Keywords: ragtime song; instrumental rag; Maple Leaf Rag; Canada

Chapter.  6916 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: American Music

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