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Scott Joplin's Ragtime Music Essay

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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 Jo...


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... and the abolishment of slavery. The Emancipation Proclamation was written and signed by President Abraham Lincoln in 1862, just five years before the birth of Joplin. Being a member of the first generation of free African Americans in the nation’s history was a positive and liberating notion for Scott Joplin. His father did have to endure the hardships of slavery, so the cruelty of the slave trade was not lost on Joplin. Free to do what he wanted to, Joplin pursued a life of music at a very early age, bringing to his compositions the carefree and jubilant attitude of a nation under reconstruction, even if the country was in the process of rebuilding itself. It was not an easy time for blacks in America, as they had a long ways to go before they enjoyed equal rights and freedoms, but the promise of a better life was enough to empower many of them, including Joplin.


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