Although ragtime wasn’t particularly popular at the time the entertainer mound Its way Into the mainstream ragtime revival In the sass, when It was used as the theme music for the 1973 Oscar-winning film The Sting. The Entertainer Is a classic example of a ragtime time piece written during this era. Ragtime is most commonly thought of as a solely piano form that reached its greatest popularity between 1897 and 1914 and was songs that people could dance which appealed to popular trends of the time.
Most ragtime’s during this time employed syncopated melody over a regular, march tempo bass line and were often attached to other Instrumental music, songs and dance. We hear from the beginning of the entertainer that it has a fast paced rhythm and this is persistent through the entire song adding to the upbeat, danceable atmosphere to the song. The entertainer is written for the most part in C major but when the C section is repeated; it modulates to the subdivision, F Major, and then through a transitional passage modulates back to C Major for the D section.
The melody that is played throughout the piece is accompanied by the syncopated left hand base line which gives Interest to the song and sets an upbeat mood for the piece. Throughout the melody there Is at various mimes blues notes evident, showing that this piece although at a very high quality was still based in Jazz. The form of the piece is AAA B A C which is very typical of Ragtime songs from this era. The first two parts are in the tonic C and the additional Parts are played in F major which is the subdivision.
The overall the rhythm of this composition Is steady and the texture is closed, meaning that the notes are close together and we can see during the sing the base notes alternate between the 5th and the root of the scale. Joplin has employed homophony In this piece: there Is a ingle obvious melody with a strongly chord-based accompaniment. The accompaniment includes the harmonize chords that support the melody and share the same syncopation. In bar 22 we can see that the first section repeated an octave higher which creates some interest in the piece.
We also hear a lot of contrast in the use of dynamics in the song. The Intro starts of In forte, and then on the start It changes to pianissimo. This back and forth dynamic change Is shown consistently throughout the song and also helps to create an interesting texture to the piece. Another feature that makes this piece a Jazz standard is the tonality. The choral accompaniment provides a strong beat with the syncopated rhythm; but also establishes the key. We can usually see each section of the entertainer end strongly on this tonic chord.
We see an example of this at the end of bar 54. Although this tonality Is strong we can see plenty examples of accidentals throughout the piece give the piece an overall complexity that makes it continually interesting and engaging to listen to. Although Joplin was considered a revolutionary in the Jazz world, he really only employed the Jazz techniques that had been used before him, But it was his high standard of Ragtime pieces that was truly innovative and helped forge the way for many modern day genres.
Joplin The Entertainer employs many Jazz techniques like the blues scale used in his melody; syncopated base lines and quick tempo and this ensures that Joplin work has had widespread prominence and popularity even if it wasn’t entirely during his time. It is this popularity that has continued even into modern day music that makes this piece stand the test of time and truly make it a Jazz standard.