Thursday, May 01, 2008

Ragtime Guitar

Ragtime is generally considered a musical artform designed for the piano due to the fact that the acknowledged composers of rags, like Scott Joplin, James Scott and Joseph Lamb, mainly wrote their ragtime compositions for the piano and with the solo piano performance of the pieces in mind. However, ragtime in its heyday from the late 1890s till the outbreak of WW I in 1914 was not restricted to the piano, marching bands, banjo ensembles and string bands also played ragtime. One of the most famous and popular classic ragtime compositions performed in numerous and different settings was Scott Joplin's "Maple Leaf Rag" from 1899.
In the early 1970s, the Popular movie 'The Sting' was responsible for introducing ragtime to a whole new generation of listeners. Classic ragtime compositions by Scott Joplin, like "The
Entertainer", "Solace" and "Ragtime Dance" a.o., were an integral part of the movie and the soundtrack from 'The Sting' with musical arrangements by Marvin Hamlish was released on LP and topped the popular hitlists for some time. A new craze for ragtime was re-born, also among youngsters trying to master new challenges in their playing the acoustic guitar. Two pioneers of this new ragtime guitar were Dave Laibman and Eric Schoenberg, who recorded the shown LP below in 1969, released by the Folkways label in 1971 and still available on a cd from the Smithsonian.

The album contains 11 tracks of ragtime pieces, 7 arranged for two guitars and four for solo guitar. Among the duets are Scott Joplin's "Maple Leaf Rag" and Zez Confrey's "Kitten On The Keys" highlights. But to me the quintessential tracks of ragtime guitar are Dave Laibman's solo performance of James Scott's "Ragtime Oriole" and Joplin's "Stoptime Rag", which both are crucial examples of Laibman's concept of arranging ragtime for fingerpicking solo guitar. Click on picture above to see full tracklist and listen to soundclips.

In 1980 Dave Laibman released 10 new solo arrangements of classic ragtime for solo guitar featuring pieces by Scott Joplin and Joseph Lamb. They are now available on a cd, click picture above to see tracklist.

Recently a dvd featuring Dave Laibman performing some of his transcriptions of classic ragtime for solo guitar has been issued, click on picture to learn more about the contents.

One of the pieces played by Dave Laibman on the dvd is the well known "Nola" - I insert the uploaded video from YouTube below



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