Sedalia Ragtime Archive
          dedicated to the genius of Scott Joplin and the American Music History he made in Sedalia 

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Sedalia, Missouri and America's Music

Posted by sedaliaragtimearchives on January 2, 2016 at 1:25 PM

Sedalia, Missouri and America’s Music

Welcome to a blog about Sedalia, Missouri, a place where America’s music began. For the first installment I’ve chosen to introduce this fascinating topic with a sort of adult-children’s poem as one of my heroes, Dr. Theodor Geisel might have written.

The phrasing is Seussian but the rhythm is there So don’t be in a hurry; take unusual care to read every word whether awkward or blurred. For…

there Once Was A Man Who Heard Music in the Air… no others could hear it, but to him it was there all around him and in him and he wanted to share. For the music he heard could be defined in two words: contagious, outrageous, bodacious, a third. The man also heard music everyone knew and all of their music was in his head too. All around him and in him but what could he do with this music he heard? It was fidgety, flappity; free as a bird melodious commodious but not very new, There were … Viennese waltzes, and bold polonaises, and hymns that inspired with anthemic praises enlivening tangos and striding fandangos and liturgical chantings o’er Italian Bel cantos.. There was Fugue and Sonata Mazurka Cantata and mourning ex-slaves wailing songs of their days of cruel subjugation in their bondservant cages. So the man who heard music that no one else heard decided to blend it to what he preferred; a creation, sensation and almost absurd and then he disclosed that what he composed was contagious outrageous and tapped everyone’s toes This music he gathered from other locations was new and exciting, such a bright innovation. that he started to brag of his Maple Leaf Rag till everyone noticed his latest creation   Some joyfully exclaimed and others proclaimed Scott Joplin is King for his music will bring him fortune and honor and national fame. So, let it be known throughout this far land that Sedalia’s a place where America’s music began.

Scott Joplin (1868-1917) wasn’t born in Sedalia, Missouri but he lived here off and on for several years in the 1890’s. He was a trained musician and composer. Up until Joplin’s time, our nation really didn’t have a musical form that was uniquely American. So while he was in Sedalia, Scott Joplin took the lilting melodies and lyrical harmonies of the Europeans in his right hand, and the pounding tempos of Latin Americans and pulsing rhythms of African and Native Americans in his left hand and made something new. The result was a scintillating syncopation they called ragtime back then. Joplin’s compositions were dubbed Classic Ragtime because they were so carefully and beautifully constructed here in Sedalia, a place where America’s music began.  


Larry C Melton 01-02-2016

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