Talk:The Entertainer (rag)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
WikiProject Classical music / Compositions 
WikiProject icon The Entertainer (rag) is within the scope of WikiProject Classical music, which aims to improve, expand, copy edit, and maintain all articles related to classical music, that are not covered by other classical music related projects. Please read the guidelines for writing and maintaining articles. To participate, you can edit this article or visit the project page for more details.
Taskforce icon
This article is supported by Compositions task force.

Music files invalid?[edit]

The music files that I put up are not an accurate reflection of the original score. They have lots of added improvisations and embellishments etc. Is this a problem for the article? --IE 17:08, 18 April 2006 (UTC)

Very Difficult To Play[edit]

I've heard The Entertainer is very difficult to play. User: 00:29, 10 May 2006 (UTC)

  • It's easier to play if you actually know how to play the piano. Wahkeenah 00:32, 10 May 2006 (UTC)
  • It depends on what you mean by difficult. For a new player or someone who isn't used to playing the "striding" left hand and syncopated music, it could be difficult to play. However, compare it to the most difficult music by Rachmaninoff, Liszt, Chopin, Bach, etc. and it's very easy. Hope that helps. Lookingforgroup 03:08, 18 June 2006 (UTC)

It is very difficult to play. I hated it when I still played piano, and someone else I know hates it on guitar. MalwareSmarts (talk) 19:51, 31 December 2007 (UTC)

It is not too difficult as far as ragtime is concerned, in my experience. If you are not familiar with playing ragtime, then yes it's difficult as pointed out above. But I have been learning this as well as many other Joplin rags and it is definitely easier than Maple Leaf Rag or Bethena, for example. I'd put it about on par with Swipesy. Fool4jesus (talk) 20:12, 2 September 2009 (UTC)

It might depend on your ability with the piano. I have trouble with the "background" parts, but that's because my left hand is awfully coordinated. The rest of it I know by memory. (talk) 22:42, 1 June 2011 (UTC)

Structure of the piece / History?[edit]

Appearances in pop culture are all very well, but this article lacks any substantial reference to the music's structure and history, or its relevance to Joplin and Rags in general. I'll see what I can find, but I think this needs much work... Major Bloodnok 17:47, 28 October 2006 (UTC)

I've added a music section and moved the snooker stuff to the popular culture section where I think it really belongs. There is a bit more historical info as well. I'm not sure about the relevance of the lyrics though... Major Bloodnok 18:41, 29 October 2006 (UTC)


I have found two references to the lyrics; both indicating that they were in a simplified piano version of the rag by John Brimhall, and published in 1974.

Given this, I do not believe that having these lyrics on the page is relevant to the entry, especially since the version it relates to is a simplified version of the rag, and came into being over 50 years after the original was first published. Accordingly, I will delete that part of the entry. IMO, the words are fairly banal.Major Bloodnok 13:56, 30 October 2006 (UTC)

  • Your opinion of the lyrics is not relevant to whether they should be in the article. What is relevant is that if they were written fairly recently, then putting them in the article is likely a copyright violation. So you're right, just for the wrong reason. Wahkeenah 14:00, 30 October 2006 (UTC)
    • You are right that my opinion of the lyrics is irrelevant to whether they should be left on the page or not. However I think it was fairly obvious from my previous post that the reason they should be is that words are of recent origin from a different source and are not linked to the original rag in popular consciousness (in anyone except those who read the earlier version of this page, or have used the 1974 simplified piano music that is). If the two had become linked together in a widely acknowledged way, as in the case of the poem "I vow to thee my country" and Jupiter from Holst's planet suite for example, then it would be daft to delete them. I think we're arguing from the same side...Major Bloodnok 08:00, 1 November 2006 (UTC)
      • We are? Well, that's no fun. :) Wahkeenah 15:09, 1 November 2006 (UTC)
      • I hadn't even considered the copyright angle... Major Bloodnok 14:07, 9 November 2006 (UTC)

Notice also that these disputed lyrics are in the corresponding Italian-language entry here on Robert Munafo 23:23, 2 January 2007 (UTC)

Personally, I'm just happy to see the lyrics printed somewhere. I wrote a node on E2 that included this text:

 Anyway, the song is almost always instrumental. The only exception I have ever
 seen is when Milton Berle gently crooned the lyrics on The Muppet Show in 1977. 
 Unfortunatly, I cannot find these lyrics anywhere. I recall it being much more 
 tender and sad than the music normal makes you feel. If anyone knows these lyrics, 
 I'd love to know them. 

Well, I guess now I know. --Mdwyer 20:26, 8 November 2007 (UTC)

Apparently the Muppets had the song on there three times. This article mentions two different times (here's a clip on Youtube which seems to include the one the node mentions plus a third by Miss Piggy). Miss Piggy's lyrics are exactly the same except she replaces some words with "her" and "she" in reference to herself. The one with Milton Berle seems to have the exact same lyrics as I've seen written in old sheet music. Kersten (talk) 14:43, 1 May 2008 (UTC)

Brimhall no more wrote the lyrics to The Entertainer than Steven Knight wrote the lyrics to Amazing Grace (or Brimhall himself for that matter [1]). Brimhall authored the words in the book about this song, not the lyrics. According to King of Ragtime By Edward A. Berlin Published by Oxford University Press US, 1995 ISBN 0195101081, p102 (regarding I Am Thinking of My Pickaninny Days) "This was the first published Joplin song in which lyrics were by someone else, in this case Henry Jackson.", p123, "That Joplin wrote the "songs" means he wrote the lyrics as well as the music.". Therefore, the lyrics were also from 1902 when the song's copyright was filed, and are now considered public domain and the lyrics can be published on the wiki. (talk) 18:36, 11 June 2009 (UTC)

This link demonstrates very clearly that Brimhall is indeed the writer of the lyrics which are currently on the page. They were not written by Joplin in 1902 or at any other time. Your citation of Berlin in support of your argument is very thin, given that it does not refer to the Entertainer at all; this Rag was not written by Joplin as a song, and no-one in his time added these lyrics to the composition. The lyrics were written by Brimhall at some point in the 1970s are therefore under copyright protection and should be removed. In addition, I do not believe they are notable enough to be included on the page, since the Entertainer is not generally associated with these, or any other lyrics, except perhaps by viewers of the Muppet Show. I am unwilling enter into an edit war over this, given that you have reverted my reversion, so please remove the lyrics. I am, of course, assuming that you put them there in good faith, and will now take them down. Oh, and please do join up and log in Major Bloodnok (talk) 22:50, 11 June 2009 (UTC)

ice cream trucks?[edit]

I actually knew this song for many years as 'the ice-cream song', because it is, at least in my area, the jingle that ice-cream trucks play. A Google search for "ice cream truck the entertainer" suggests that this is probably in fact fairly common in the United States. However, there's no mention of it in either this article or the ice cream van one. Would it maybe be appropriate to bring it up somewhere? ~ lav-chan @ 02:35, 1 December 2006 (UTC)

Sure, if you can find a source. Unfortunately, a fond memory is insufficient documentation. :( Wahkeenah 02:49, 1 December 2006 (UTC)
I actually found a magazine article written by 'a graduate student in ethnomusicology' on the subject. It's pretty interesting, but it only mentions 'The Entertainer' once in passing (at the very end of the text), so i don't suppose that's sufficient information to work into this article. I might try adding something about music in general to the ice cream van later though. Here's the link if anyone's interested. ~ lav-chan @ 17:59, 1 December 2006 (UTC)

Undid vandalism by[edit]

The vandal with the IP had randomly inserted the words "family guy" at various places in the article. I have undone all changes by that IP

mr —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 10:48, 15 November 2007 (UTC)

Lyrics will be removed[edit]

I haven't been near this page in ages, and find the lyrics are back! Further up this page is a conversation about this issue. Given that they are under copyright and violate the WP rule: "Content that violates any copyright will be deleted", I'll delete it.

They were not published with the original piece of music, and date from a simplified piano arrangement c.1974. Major Bloodnok 19:25, 30 November 2007 (UTC)

Replied under the other discussion. The lyrics were in the original. Citation provided. The lyrics need to stay on the article. (talk) 18:45, 11 June 2009 (UTC)

Use in Just So Stories[edit]

I can't find any documentation for this, but I remember it being used as the theme to an animated (TV) version of the "just so stories". The TV serries was missing from the Just So Stories page as well as I've added it there with a reference to the IMDB... unfortunately no mention is made of the music. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Oboler (talkcontribs) 17:12, 11 March 2008 (UTC)

Misleading Quote[edit]

That quote from the Globe-Democrat is extremely misleading, referring to the Entertainer as one of Joplin's "later compositions". The cited quote is dated June 1903, at which point more than two-thirds of Joplin's work had not even been written yet. At the very least, "later compsitions" needs to find its way inside the quotations marks, on the theory that is seemed like a later work from the perspective of June 1903. From our perspective, the Entertainer is not a later work by any stretch of the imagination. (I would say that the most obvious classification of Joplin's periods is that "later works" are those written after he moved to New York, and "early works" are those written before he left Sedalia. By that logic, the Entertainer would be one of the last of his early works.) Iglew (talk) 10:29, 23 February 2009 (UTC)

Agreed. When I first read the article I got the wrong impression as well. I changed the article to be more accurate. Fool4jesus (talk) 20:19, 2 September 2009 (UTC)
I imagine it was an editor error since the word 'later' wasn't part of the quote. ♫ Melodia Chaconne ♫ (talk) 22:06, 2 September 2009 (UTC)


im not sure if this is worth mentioning but the song was converted into a ringtone that is standard on most cell-phones. (talk) 02:06, 18 June 2010 (UTC)

Not worth mentioning, in my opinion.--Stepheng3 (talk) 02:24, 18 June 2010 (UTC)


There is an entire section for this song being used in Western films. While you do occasionally hear rags in saloon scenes and the sort, if no one can name a single western that features this song then I'm going to remove the entire section. The song is frequently used to give an old-timey feel and there's not much encyclopedic about speculating further. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Tegrenath (talkcontribs) 18:26, 21 August 2010 (UTC)

Learning piano[edit]

Isn't this a typical song for people who are learning to play the piano (assuming they can play this)? I find absolutely no mention of it. ~ Wikipedian192 (talk) 04:32, 22 November 2010 (UTC)

Unless there's a good source that states this, it's not really relevant. There's a LOT of notable music that's used for that. ♫ Melodia Chaconne ♫ (talk) 05:05, 22 November 2010 (UTC)


It's associated in the UK with snooker? Really? I'm a snooker fan in the UK, and it doesn't scream "snooker" to me. And the song most people connect with snooker is not The Entertainer, but Drag Racer, to the extent that whole comedy routines are made about it.[2] Unless anyone can come up with evidence of it being in the public consciousness as "that snooker song", then the claim should be deleted; as a well-known piece of music, it gets used for all sorts of soundtracks and overdubs, and they only need mentioning here if they became permanently linked. EJBH (talk) 00:54, 25 May 2011 (UTC)

Meaning of the name[edit]

Just begun to wonder: Is the tune supposed to represent an entertainer, as in a person who entertains, or to be an entertainer, as in the tune itself does the entertaining?

Indeed, does anybody alive today know which interpretation Joplin intended? — Smjg (talk) 12:43, 5 December 2011 (UTC)

The cover art strongly suggests that the song is about a person, as does the rag's dedication to "James Brown and his Mandolin Club." —Stepheng3 (talk) 03:50, 6 December 2011 (UTC)

Some old arcade game?[edit]

I had one of those generic MAME-on-a-chip joysticks that you plug into the TV. One of the games had this song as the background music. The other games on the joystick were pretty well known, so it might be relevant to put on the page. I can't for the life of me think of the name though. All that comes to mind is "Maury", but I'm fairly certain that's not it. You played as a mouse, it was a non-sidescrolling platformer were some cat was the enemy. Either the cat or the mouse (or both) was a sheriff(/were sheriffs).
Revision: I'm completely wrong here. The game I'm thinking of is Mappy, and the song is borderline ragtime and not even close to the entertainer. But I am certain that I heard it in that kind of setting. I'm going to leave this up in case it jogs someones memory (talk) 15:13, 28 August 2012 (UTC)

Thanks for your contribution; on the whole I think that mentioning all occasions when the piece has been mentioned is not very helpful for the reader. Generally it is not notable (WP:N) enough for the Entertainer page to have this information. Although it may be a useful inclusion for a page about the computer game / TV show / etc. Ben (Major Bloodnok) (talk) 18:37, 29 August 2012 (UTC)

An excerpt of The Entertainer (the 'AA' part of the structure according to the article) is used in a poker simulator called American Poker 2, when you get a combination that yields high enough score (most commonly the 4-of-a-kind). This gambling machine (and it's uncountable amount of hacked versions) was very common in pubs throughout eastern Europe and possibly elsewhere too. The volume in Mame is wrong as of this writing, the tune plays too quiet while sound effects are too loud - on the real machine, they are closer to each other, at least as much that you can hear the tune on the default volume even next to a busy pub noise. In Mame, the tune is almost entirely silent. This arcade machine was *very* popular, second only to all the Cherry Bonus (aka 'Fruit Basket') machines, and I know quite a lot of people who regard The Entertainer as that tune from the poker gambling machine because of this. So I'd consider this information worth adding to the article. Mappy uses a completely different tune although it does indeed sound ragtime inspired, but it was an original composition. There are some ragtime piano arranges of it on youtube if you look, though, some are pretty good. (talk) 19:42, 10 October 2012 (UTC)

Audio file[edit]

There are currently two versions of the Entertainer on this page in the info box without explanation of the difference. There has been one for a while and another was added by this edit. I removed the original recording we had on there because it was a performance taken from a "non-live" midi file - i.e. a step-entered version of the piece taken directly from the sheet music.

It is Ok that there is more than one version of the piece on this page without explanation? The argument in favour of retaining only the "human" performance rather than the step-entered one is that it is a person's real interpretation of the piece rather than a direct copy of the sheet music. Do we need both? Can we add to the caption? I'm not wedded to any option, but since my edit has been reverted I thought I'd better bring it up. Ben (Major Bloodnok) (talk) 21:52, 21 November 2012 (UTC)

Another point is that there are computer set-ups which can handle MIDI straight out of the box, but can't handle OGG without downloading and configuration... AnonMoos (talk) 23:47, 21 November 2012 (UTC)