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MMD > Archives > May 2001 > 2001.05.16 > 10Prev  Next

Tempo of Scott Joplin Rags
By John Rutoskey

Scott Joplin ragtime was written to be classical ragtime, and was never
meant to be played fast.  There were several up-tempo pieces composed
by him, but none were ever supposed to be rushed through.  Some of the
ones I consider to be the most beautiful, such as the absolutely
haunting "Magnetic Rag", I have heard absolutely destroyed by incorrect
tempo and phrasing.  The QRS 88-note roll of this (if it is the same
one being made in the 1970's) is an abomination.

Another thing I never understood is why a lot of ragtime these days is
played in a fox-trot style instead of the syncopated time as it was
written to be played in.  Most of what I hear on new CD's I buy is
unlistenable.  It seems like the musicians seem to have too much fun
with it, take too many artistic liberties, or worse yet, turn it into
blues or jazz, which ragtime is certainly _not_.

The best recordings I ever purchased of Scott Joplin rags were
hands-down the Joshua Rifkin LP's released by Nonesuch Records in the
late 1970's.  There were two LP's, each with about eight rags per
album.  I'm sure both volumes have been released together on CD these
days, as they are played perfectly by Mr. Rifkin.  Scott Joplin ragtime
fans could learn a lot from listening to this recording.  I have never
found a better recording on all levels including the production.

John D. Rutoskey

(Message sent Wed 16 May 2001, 07:03:08 GMT, from time zone GMT-0400.)

Key Words in Subject:  Joplin, Rags, Scott, Tempo

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