- The Entertainer
- Maple Leaf Rag
- The Easy Winners
While Great Writers and Great Musicians normally don't have a lot of strategy around them, Scott Joplin is quite possibly the best Great Musician in the game. Three Great Works of Music instead of the usual two makes Joplin a much better investment. If going for a Culture Victory, make an effort to get Joplin.
Ragtime was a piano style that came out of the African American community around the turn of the 20th century, and Scott Joplin was ragtime’s king. Combining Western piano music, especially marches, with African melodies, ragtime was characterized by the presence of a syncopated melody between the meter, giving the piece a “ragged” flavor or, to use Joplin’s word, a “swing.” Ragtime was popular in the 1890s – 1910s, before recorded music was widely available, and as such, it spread via sheet music or simply learned in performance. Ragtime, a largely African American musical style, broke the color barrier in music, a feat that was to be repeated with blues, jazz, rock, hip-hop, and other African American styles that defined larger American culture. Even overseas, European composers saw in ragtime their own growing interest in folk music reflected back with a distinctively American feel, and Dvorak, Stravinsky, and Debussy each were inspired to compose their own rags.
Scott Joplin, the son of an ex-slave, was born in the 1860s, just after the end of the Civil War, around the border between Texas and Arkansas. His family all were talented musicians, and in his teens, Joplin traveled, learning and experimenting with ragtime as he went. Eventually, he studied music at George R. Smith College and continued to compose. His “Maple Leaf Rag” achieved international success, earning him enough to keep him composing, and Joplin moved on to experiment with opera and stage performance. Joplin died in 1917, and his music faded in fame over time, being “rediscovered” in the 1940s and again in the 1970s. Its influence, however, remained, hiding between the notes like any good rag.