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MMD > Archives > May 2001 > 2001.05.18 > 04Prev  Next

Scott Joplin Rags on Rolls and Records
By Mike Knudsen

John Rutoskey wrote about Magnetic Rag, "The QRS 88-note roll of this
... is an abomination."

Actually, on my copy of this roll, the problem is that the introduction
is punched at half tempo.  So if you set the tempo for a proper
introduction, the body of the rag plays double time -- so ridiculously
fast that anyone can tell it needs to be slowed down.  Well, maybe not
someone versed in ricky-tick school of ragtime. :-)  Anyway, I set the
tempo for the main body and ignore the intro.  Or better yet, I love
to play Magnetic Rag by hand anyway.

> 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. ...  I have never found a better recording on all levels
> including the production.

Absolutely!  These albums turned me on to ragtime (a few months before
The Sting came out!) and have always served as my model for how to
p[lay, and later to compose.  There is indeed a CD re-release of them,
but it had to omit a couple of rags from each album; I forget which

Yes, the tone quality and room acoustics were superb.  It's also worth
mentioning that, contrary to what some critics have said, Mr. Rifkin
does not play all the rags slow and dreamy.  He plays "Scott Joplin's
New Rag" faster than Max Morath plays it live, and I think this one
should be fairly fast.  Nor does he slow down "Maple Leaf Rag".
Someone else posted a list of rags that should be played slowly, and
Mr. Rifkin and I agree with that listing.

How about James Scott and Joseph Lamb?  Generally, Lamb rags are slow
and Scott's are fast, with exceptions.  Then there's William Balcom's
"Graceful Ghost"; anyone who rushes through that deserves to be haunted
the rest of his days. :-)

Mike Knudsen

(Message sent Fri 18 May 2001, 04:42:25 GMT, from time zone GMT-0400.)

Key Words in Subject:  Joplin, Rags, Records, Rolls, Scott

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