Ragtime Maple Leaf Rag


Listen to Maple Leaf Rag: American Ragtime Piano Classics by Richard Zimmerman on Apple Music. Stream songs including 'The Entertainer', 'Maple Leaf Rag' and more. Album 1965 21 Songs. Oftentimes a dance band recorded an up-to-date swing version of 'Maple Leaf Rag.' But more often than not, ragtime, when offered, would be played as quaint nostalgia with its characteristics parodied. But ragtime also had advocates-its composers, practitioners, and admirers.

Scott Joplin: Maple Leaf Rag


Scott Joplin is remembered for being one of the most memorable ragtime composers of the turn-of-the-century during his lifetime (1868-1917). After Joplin’s death in 1917, ragtime music came out of the ‘mainstream’ line and started to form into the likes of jazz, big band swing and the blues. Joplin’s music went out of fashion, with only a small number of ragtime aficionados keeping his music alive. It wasn’t until some ground-breaking recordings done in the 1970s that Joplin’s music found a new lease of life. A number of his piano rags and his opera Treemonisha have become some of the most recognisable music of the genre.

The Music

Maple Leaf Rag was one of Joplin’s earliest rags for the piano. It is often known as the most famous ragtime piece that has gone on to inspire a number of composers. This quintessential rag brings together many aspects of a rag into one neatly packed piano work.

The quick tempo and huge leaps for both hands makes this a difficult rag for any pianist. The march-like style paired with the cakewalk-inspired melody creates the archetypal ragtime composition. With Maple Leaf Rag Joplin writes bounding leaps for the bass line and off-beat melodies on the other hand. The four sections of this rag create diversity in the melody and show the development of the bassline. Joplin’s persistent use of seventh chords also creates that archetypal sound for a ragtime piece.

This athletic rag requires focused coordination for both hands to make sure each off-beat inflection and bass line motif meet and part at the right time. The suspended melody line trickles down the scale as Joplin’s chromatic writing grows into fruition. The frivolity of the work masks the serious concentration and dexterity required from the performer. As the main melody is repeated near the end as the music moves back into the home key of Ab major, the hands unite for the final chords to create a bold conclusion.

Final Thoughts

Maple Leaf Rag is still one of Scott Joplin’s most popular works. From the infectious melody to the challenges it poses for performers, this archetypal rag will keep putting smiles on faces for years to come.

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Ragtime Maple Leaf Rag

Free Audio MP3 File Download of Maple Leaf Rag

Ragtime Song Summary of the Maple Leaf Rag

This ragtime song was composed in Sedalia, Missouri by the African-American pianist, composer, and music educator Scott Joplin (1868-1917) in 1899. It was immediately published in that same year by John Stark & Son.

The Maple Leaf Rag was one of the earliest and most popular compositions in the ragtime music genre. There is some dispute by experts on sheet music sales for the Maple Leaf Rag. Some say that there were over a million sales and others claim that number has been inflated. Either way, this composition by Joplin has been a popular one and sold well not only in the United States but also around the world as well.

Information Sources:

  • Website:Wikipedia.org

Maple Leaf Rag Video On YouTube Channel

Click HERE to watch directly on YouTube.

Ragtime Piano Scott Joplin Maple Leaf Rag

Timestamps For This Video

  • 0:00 Intro with Tom and Lars
  • 1:10 Channel “Bumper” Video
  • 1:28 TheTomAndLarsShow.com website slide appears
  • 1:37 Tom plays the “Maple Leaf Rag”
  • 4:52 Outtakes Begin
  • 6:14 TheTomAndLarsShow.com website slide appears again
  • 6:23 Video End Card

Maple Leaf Rag Piano Pdf

Arrangement Details of Maple Leaf Rag

  • Song composed and played in the Key of Ab Concert
  • Time Signature: 2/4
  • Tempo: quarter = 93 (tempo varies; not completely metronomic)
  • Check out an Online PDF copy of the sheet music HERE

Song Lyrics For Maple Leaf Rag

Maple Leaf Rag Tutorial

While Joplin’s original Maple Leaf Rag was purely an instrumental piano composition, in 1903 John Stark issued a song based on Joplin’s original composition with lyrics written by Sydney Brown. Brown’s lyrics “tell the story of a poor man from Accomack County, Virginia, who stumbles into a ballroom where, in spite of his anxiety over the state of his appearance he manages to wow the crowd with the Maple Leaf Rag. While the men are jealous of his dancing abilities and draw their razors, the women love him, and the ‘finest belle’ sends for a carriage and the two of them ride away.” [Source: Wikipedia].

I came from ole Virginy from the county Acomac
I have no wealth to speak of ‘cept de clothes upon my back
I can do the country hoe-down I can buck and wing to show down
And while I’m in the notion, just step back and watch my motion

Oh go ‘way man, I can hypnotize dis nation
I can shake the earth’s foundation wit’ the Maple Leaf Rag
Oh go ‘way man, just hold you breath a minute
For there’s not a stunt that’s in it with the Maple Leaf Rag

I dropped into the swellest ball, the great exclusive it
But my face was dead agin me and my trousers didn’t fit
But when Maple Leaf was started, my timidity departed
I lost my trepidation, you could taste the admiration

Oh go ‘way man, I can hypnotize this nation
I can shake the earth’s foundation wit’ the Maple Leaf Rag
Oh go ‘way man, just hold you breath a minute
For there’s not a stunt that’s in it with the Maple Leaf Rag

Ragtime Maple Leaf Rag Pdf

The men were struck wit’ jealousy, the razors ‘gan to flash
But de ladies gathered ’round me for I’d surely made a mash
The finest belle, she sent a boy to call a coach and four
We rode around a season ’till we both were lost to reason

Ragtime Composer Maple Leaf Rag

Oh go ‘way man, I can hypnotize this nation
I can shake the earth’s foundation wit’ the Maple Leaf Rag
Oh go ‘way man, just hold you breath a minute
For there’s not a stunt that’s in it with the Maple Leaf Rag