Maple Leaf Rag by Scott Joplin
The great Scott Joplin was said to have recorded seven piano rolls in 1916, the year before his death. "Maple Leaf Rag", his greatest hit and the first song to reach one million sales in sheet music, was one of them.
Joplin died before audio recording technology became common so piano rolls were the next best thing. While they sacrifice the dynamic range that we take for granted in actual recordings and can be tampered with to mask mistakes or make embellishments, piano rolls are nonetheless a still fascinating glimpse into how composers of antiquity approached their own music.
This "Connorized" version of the "Maple Leaf Rag" is full of errors, which could be symptomatic of Joplin's twenty year-long battle with tertiary syphilis (one effect of this disease is discoordination of the fingers). But it's still played by Scott Joplin, which makes it a rare treat to any fan of classic ragtime (the 1/16th notes are swung, which many purists ascribe more to modern jazz and not the earlier ragtime, hence providing an argument that Joplin didn't actually record this roll).
I've been on a Scott Joplin kick ever since I referenced the "Maple Leaf Rag" while revising chapter two of American Zen (Jo Jo, the keyboardist, plays the first bar during the band's first ever rehearsal in 1978). So, if you have an appreciation for ragtime, please enjoy this little masterpeice of western culture. This is one of my favorite songs of all time.
One of the amazing coincidences is that the band in American Zen broke up on November 24th, which is the commonly accepted birthdate of Joplin (although almost surely wrong) and their first rehearsal, in a briefly working revision of chapter two, takes place on April's Fool's day, which is the day Joplin passed away in 1917. It's just one of the very many coincidences that mark this novel of mine, little serendipities that tend to suggest that I'm perhaps on a path of destiny.
For anybody that cares...