Jazz and History

(6) Scott Joplin, King of Ragtime

Scott Joplin(1868-1917)

A playing style has been called Ragtime Piano. The blacks could not have their own pianos; however, they started playing work songs or soul music with pianos once they were able to posses and play their piano. Ragtime is a preceding component of Jazz.

In 1893, in Fred Stone's "Ma Ragtime Baby", a word "ragtime" appeared for the first time. Ragged originally means irregular or uneven. In this way, notes are put in a bar without any particular rule, and people intentionally play notes unevenly. Then, Ragtime gradually compounded to Jazz and it resulted in syncopation for strong notes.

By publishing "Maple Leaf Rag" in 1899, Scott Joplin gained fame, and people called him King of Ragtime. Regarding to publication of "Maple Leaf Rag", there is an interesting story. Joplin composed several music and brought them along with "Maple Leaf Rag" to one music publication company. However, the publisher bought "Original Rag", and they did left out "Maple Leaf Rag." Another man, whose name was John Stark who was a farmer, ice cream sales man, and repairman of piano pedals took care to publish "Maple Leaf Rag." Within a year, Joplin and Stark sold about one million copies of the music; as a result, they earned so much money and friendship at a time.

Jelly  Roll Morton

Morton became famous by composing "Tiger Rag." He mastered playing trombone, drums, violin, harmonica, guitar and finally piano, so he could be first multi talented musician.

Moreover, he invented the notation of chords. Any Jazz player has to rely on the chords. You may know G7 etc. Jazz chord is covered in detail in chapter "Jazz and Miscellaneous Knowledge."

Around 1902, Morton played music that was combination of blues and Ragtime, and he later claimed "That time was the beginning of Jazz." However, many people opposed to his words that might harm his fame; on the other hand, some people assumed that his note has been true.

[translated by Mariko Ukawa]

Jimmy LaRocca, the son of Nick LaRocca of ODJB, recently pointed out the error in this column. That is "Tiger Rag" is not composed by Morton but Nick LaRocca composed it in 1912.

The fact is Copyright holder is Nick LaRocca.   -Dec. 20, 2002-

Referred from http://www.geocities.com/infrogmation/Tiger.html

According to Nick LaRocca, it was written by Nick LaRocca.
According to Jelly Roll Morton, it was written by Jelly Roll Morton.
According to Punch Miller, he and Jack Carey wrote it's best known strain, the "hold that tiger" part.

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