A First Book of Ragtime: 24 Arrangements for the Beginning Pianist

A First Book of Ragtime: 24 Arrangements for the Beginning Pianist

by David Dutkanicz

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This compilation of easy-to-play ragtime favorites features 24 rollicking melodies by "The Big Three" of ragtime — Scott Joplin, James Scott, and Joseph Lamb — plus pieces by Eubie Blake, Tom Turpin, and other artists. Popular tunes include "Maple Leaf Rag," "The Entertainer," and "Tiger Rag." Novices of all ages will delight in these simplified arrangements of carefully selected pieces. The editor provides suggested fingerings and comments on each piece that include background on the composers and tips for performance.
Along with the twenty-four piano arrangements, this collection includes a free MP3 download for every piece, which will help beginning pianists develop an ear for the melodies. The MP3s may be downloaded individually or collectively.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780486171678
Publisher: Dover Publications
Publication date: 10/16/2012
Series: Dover Music for Piano
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 48
File size: 5 MB
Age Range: 4 Years

About the Author

Former Dover editor David Dutkanicz holds degrees from the Manhattan School of Music, New York University, and Columbia University. He is the editor of several books in this series.

Read an Excerpt

A First Book of Ragtime

24 Arrangements for the Beginning Pianist


Dover Publications, Inc.

Copyright © 2011 Dover Publications, Inc.
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-486-17167-8


The Entertainer

Scott Joplin (c. 1867–1917)

Known as the "King of Ragtime," Scott Joplin is one of America's most celebrated artists. This work has become a symbol of the genre and is recognized throughout the world. Be sure to follow the tempo marking and play in an unhurried manner.

Magnetic Rag

Scott Joplin (c. 1867–1917)

This excerpt is taken from the second theme of the work. The sixteenth notes beginning each phrase are known as "pickups" and are used to lead into the melody. Play them evenly and do not rush.

Blue Goose Rag

Raymond Birch (1876–1950)

Raymond Birch was a prolific composer from Kansas City, who wrote over 300 songs. He was only the second artist (after Joplin) to sell one million copies of a single piece of music. Keep the mood lively by adding a sense of swing to the right hand.

Fig Leaf Rag

Scott Joplin (c. 1867–1917)

Practicing arpeggios may seem tedious, but they do come in handy. This melody by Joplin is a good example of how arpeggios can be used to create a playful sound. Use C and G major arpeggios to warm-up before practicing this rag.

Champagne Rag

Joseph F. Lamb (1887–1960)

Joseph F. Lamb was another major composer of ragtime whose career began after a chance meeting with Joplin in a New York City music store. He had many works published and became a part of ragtime's "Big Three," along with Joplin and James Scott. Be mindful of the melodic leaps in the right hand—practice them separately so that they are smooth and do not jump.

Tiger Rag

Nick La Rocca (1889–1961), et al

This catchy rag was an early hit, and was recorded by many artists on numerous albums. Use dynamics to emphasize the contrast between the subdued intro and roaring theme. Repeat the theme as many times as you like before playing the rousing finish.

Grace and Beauty

James Scott (1885–1938)

When playing this lovely rag, be mindful of the melody splitting between the left and right hands. Play smoothly and evenly, as if one hand were playing. Once your fingers are comfortable, add a slight touch of pedal.

Great Scott Rag

James Scott (1885–1938)

James Scott was a member of ragtime's "Big Three," with Joplin and Lamb. Scott also worked as a piano player for the silent movies of the day, writing original works and adapting popular tunes for the screen. It was Joplin who discovered his music and promoted it to various publishers.

Easy Winners

Scott Joplin (c. 1867–1917)

When playing this piece, you'll find that the "pulse" often lands on an upbeat. This is known as syncopation. Practice by counting the rhythm out loud before playing.

Felicity Rag

Scott Joplin (c. 1867–1917)

This standard work was first published in 1911, and co-written with Scott Hayden, one of Joplin's students. Keep the tone clean in the lower register by playing evenly, and lifting the fingers off the keys.

High Society

Porter Steele (1880–1910)

Originally marketed as a march, this upbeat work quickly found its way into the popular repertoire. Musicians often added their own melodies and accompaniments, transforming the work into something of their own. This can be heard here by the pairing of the "march" in the right hand, with spruced up passages in the left.

The Weeping Willow

Scott Joplin (c. 1867–1917)

To keep this piece lyrical, you will need to cross fingers on some of the accidentals. In these instances, keep your thumb stationary while the index finger plays the note and returns to its original position. It may feel awkward at first (like using chopsticks) but will become natural with a little practice.

Charleston Rag

"Eubie" Blake (1883–1983)

"Eubie" Blake was a prolific ragtime, jazz and Broadway composer who lived to celebrate his 100th birthday. He wrote this work when he was only 12 years old, and it quickly became a standard. Propel the music forward by identifying the chromatic passages before you begin to play.

Mississippi Rag

William Henry Krell (1868–1933)

Published in 1897, this rag is one of the earliest ever written. Note the vamp section. This is used to connect the sections, and give performers a chance to catch their breath before playing on. It also helps the music evolve from a march into a rag.

Sleepy Hollow

Clarence Woods (1888–1956)

This charming work by Clarence Woods uses an effect known as tremolo, where notes are repeated in a "shaking" manner. When playing these tremolos, it is important to keep the rhythm even between the two notes. Keep a steady pace when alternating the sixteenth notes, beginning with the top.

Chevy Chase Rag

"Eubie" Blake (1883–1983)

Another masterpiece by Blake, this curious title was most likely in reference to the Chevy Chase Country Club outside of Washington D.C. He "cuts to the chase" in measure 7 with a cascading pattern. You'll need to cross your hands over four octaves. Tip: the pattern is repeated, so locate the A's first on your way down.

Harlem Rag

Tom Turpin (1871–1922)

Tom Turpin was an early ragtime pioneer. This work was published in 1897, although it was written in 1892, and performed at the 1893 World's Fair. Its many sections provide a glimpse into the various moods of early ragtime.

A Breeze from Alabama

Scott Joplin (c. 1867–1917)

Before playing, take a moment to study the chromatic neighbors throughout the first half of the work. Joplin uses these "passing tones" to enrich the flow and flavor of the melody. He then introduces the "fresh breeze" in the second section by using accidentals.

Violin Rag

Irving Berlin (1888–1989)

Irving Berlin is one of America's most beloved composers, prolific in many genres. He was at the forefront of the "Ragtime Revival," helping to reintroduce the style to a new generation. Pay attention to the accidentals, and keep the mood upbeat.

Twelfth Street Rag

Euday L. Bowman (1887–1949)

Euday L. Bowman composed this best-selling rag in 1914. The repeating three-note pattern might seem a bit dizzying at first. Practice slowly, and use the repetition as a chance to look and plan ahead.

Fizz Water

"Eubie" Blake (1883–1983)

This is another popular melody written by Blake in 1911. Notice how the B[??] gives the melody color. This is part of a blues scale, where the third note is flattened.

Peach Rag

Arthur Marshall (1881–1968)

This charming rag was written by Arthur Marshall, who went to high school with Joplin's student and collaborator, Scott Hayden. Keep the tempo at a steady stroll, never rushing. Add a bit of "swing" to keep the melody moving.

Maple Leaf Rag

Scott Joplin (c. 1867–1917)

This famous work is an icon of American music. Written around 1897 for the Maple Leaf Club of Sedalia, Missouri, it quickly catapulted Joplin to fame. It was also the first piece of music to sell one million copies.

Bohemia Rag

Joseph F. Lamb (1887–1960)

This piece was written around 1919, when ragtime was beginning to loose popularity. Perhaps as a farewell to its heyday, Lamb captures a melancholic and wandering tone. It was his last published work, and signaled the end of an era.


Excerpted from A First Book of Ragtime by DAVID DUTKANICZ. Copyright © 2011 Dover Publications, Inc.. Excerpted by permission of Dover Publications, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

The Entertainer Scott Joplin (c. 1867-1917)Magnetic Rag Scott Joplin (c. 1867-1917)Blue Goose Rag Raymond Birch (1876-1950)Fig Leaf Rag Scott Joplin (c. 1867-1917)Champagne Rag Joseph F. Lamb (1887-1960)Tiger Rag Nick La Rocca (1889-1961), et alGrace and Beauty James Scott (1885-1938)Easy Winners Scott Joplin (c. 1867-1917)Felicity Rag Scott Joplin (c. 1867-1917)High Society Porter Steele (1880-1910)The Weeping Willow Scott Joplin (c. 1867-1917)Charleston Rag "Eubie" Blake (1883-1983)Mississippi Rag William Henry Krell (1868-1933)Sleepy Hollow Clarence Woods (1888-1956)Chevy Chase Rag "Eubie" Blake (1883-1983)Harlem Rag Tom Turpin (1867-1917)A Breeze from Alabama Scott Joplin (c. 1867-1917)Violin Rag Irving Berlin (1888-1989)Twelfth Street Rag Euday L. Bowman (1887-1949)Fizz Water "Eubie" Blake (1883-1983)Peach Rag Arthur Marshall (1881-1968)Maple Leaf Rag Scott Joplin (c. 1867-1917) Bohemia Rag Joseph F. Lamb (1887-1960) Works are arranged in order of approximate difficulty.

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