Delving into digital piano players lives (tongue in cheek) through alphabetical means. Today we look at letter S:
Scott Joplin (1977):
It is unclear when Scott Joplin was born but it was probably 1868. What is certain is that he was a young, gifted and black digital piano player who performed and composed.
He wrote numerous ‘rags’ for which he is regularly cited. His name as a composer remains in the standard piano repertoire listings of today as young digital piano students have to study the ‘Maple Leaf Rag’ for their lower grade exams. At first the coordination of such syncopated pieces causes the student some frustration but as soon as they can play ‘The Entertainer’ and music from ‘The Sting’ – Scott Joplin is suddenly a house-hold name!
Joplin travelled from state to state; from Texas to Louisiana to New Orleans to get work as a digital piano player as he didn’t wish to be a labourer, though as a young black man he soon realised that his options were restricted. Although his talent was in composing and teaching the digital piano, Joplin also excelled at guitar, violin, cornet and vocals.
The film is very much a journey through Scott Joplin’s life with his digital piano piece ‘Maple Leaf Rag’ being the hinge point of his success. The consequential sale of this work gives him notoriety as a publisher and record artist. He did reach the heights and enjoyed a privileged lifestyle during the depression. Joplin soon yearned for more and set out to compose a more prolific composition. But it was not to be…
Joplin’s life was short-lived as he became unwell and died at the young age of 49. In his lifetime Joplin made a great contribution to Afro-American music and the influence it would later have on European music would be marked. Such native material as work songs, gospel hymns, spirituals with their syncopated rhythms and rich harmonies paved the way for many new genres including jazz and a more commercial pop.
Joplin’s greatest legacy today would be to hear his digital piano rags being played in concert halls, classrooms and on home keyboards throughout the land. Long live ‘The Entertainer’!