Celebrating Scott Joplin

Celebrating Scott Joplin

Cam Fuller

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=93ASUImTedo No Missouri resident has ever had more effect on the wide world of music like Sedalia native Scott Joplin. By pioneering the genres of Ragtime and March, Joplin completely changed how American composers and artists looked at writing music in the early 1900s which is why his musical fingerprint can still be seen in today’s music.
Ragtime is widely considered the immediate precursor to Jazz and gave birth to the idea that notes could be played slightly off rhythm to give the music more character. It’s simple yet completely revolutionary ideas like this that helped Joplin to make waves in the contemporary music scene of the early 1900s and mark his name in American pop culture history, even if his success would not be recognized until after his passing. His original ragtime piece “Maple Leaf Rag” would be played throughout the American midwest as a staple of saloons in the 1910s but was was often not credited to Joplin because of his skin. Much of his work was played under a different name by other pianists or used as their own compositions as Joplin would have no way of telling white artists to stop.
However, unbeknownst to most, is the fact that Joplin also helped to pioneer the genre we now know as Marching Band music. Joplin and his contemporaries throughout the Midwest and South began mixing together basic horn structures and intense drum flurries to create a much wider and powerful sound meant to be played by a large amount of musicians. Again, Joplin took a basic concept but so thoroughly expounded on it that his music is still being played in bands today.
Across 44 original ragtime pieces, one ragtime ballet, and two operas, Scott Joplin helped to create two completely new genres and left the seeds for even more to grow in the time after his passing on Apr. 1, 1917. Without Joplin’s early contributions to jazz, popular music as we know it today may be completely different and assuredly without the kind of frenzied grooves and solos that have captivated audiences in the Rock and Soul genres. The music world is indebted to him while still rarely giving him his due because he was so far ahead of his time, but thanks to Joplin, African American artists were finally able to begin shaping the sound of American culture and have continued to do so ever since.