Scott Joplin: Weeping Willow
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 groundbreaking 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.
Composed in 1903, Weeping Willow is one of Joplin’s lesser-known piano rags. Subtitled ‘A rag-time two step’, this rag was created to accompany the two step dance which was popular in the very early 1900s. The slower pace of Weeping Willow in comparison to some of Joplin’s more popular rags makes space for the ever-changing melodies. Set in G major at the beginning, Joplin moves around a number of keys to initiate new sections of the rag. Throughout these progressions Joplin’s highly melodic rag keeps the laid-back tempo and character throughout. The final section of the rag brings together variants of the melody from the previous sections to showcase the fine artistry of Joplin’s pen.
Ⓒ Alex Burns
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