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Maple Leaf Rag

From Academic Kids

The Maple Leaf Rag (1899) is an early ragtime composition by Scott Joplin. It was one of Joplin's early works, and is one of the most famous of all ragtime pieces.

It is a multi-strain ragtime march with athletic bass lines and upbeat melodies. Each of the four parts features a recurring theme and, always, a jumpy left hand with a lot of seventh chords.

It is more carefully constructed than almost all previous ragtime tunes, and the syncopations, especially in the transition between the first and second strain, were arrestingly novel at the time.

While not an extremely difficult piece rhythmically or musically, one must have a decent command of your left arm in order to perform this piece successfully--especially the third section. When it was first published it was considered significantly more difficult than the average Tin Pan Alley and early ragtime sheet music common at the time.

The tune became a huge hit, in addition to sales of sheet music, it was also popular in orchestrations for dance bands and brass bands for years.

The tune continued to be in the repertoire of jazz bands decades later, with such artists the New Orleans Rhythm Kings in the 1920s Sidney Bechet in the 1940s giving it treatments up-to-date for the time.

The Maple Leaf Rag is still a favorite of ragtime pianists.

As the copyright has expired, the composition is in the public domain. It appears in the soundtracks of hundreds of films, cartoons, commercials, and Bally Midway's 1983 arcade videogame, Domino Man.

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