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Merlin Smith Plays Scott Joplin

Volume 1

Weeping Willow

"Released in 1903, this was the second Joplin rag I decided to arrange and it holds a very special place in my heart. I even named my cat Willow because of this song. I had recently been experimenting with playing the guitar using nails however they had become slightly too long and as a result made an unpleasant tapping sound on the guitar strings. On the day of filming I decided to trim them however accidentally did them too short leaving me playing with just my finger flesh which after months of playing with nails caused volume imbalance over the strings. In the few hours I had left leading up to filming I had to quickly try and work on my technique to counteract this and feel I did quite well in the end however there are definitely some notes that are inaudible in the final modulated sections. Also thank you to Richard Smith for giving me the idea to tune down to drop D in between sections."

Heliotrope Bouquet

"A beautiful Ragtime piece and also my first Joplin arrangement that I attempted. I was unaware at the time it was in fact written by Louis Chauvin and it is unknown which parts of the piece were added by Joplin however most speculate the first two sections are the work of Chauvin and the rest by Joplin. If you listen to 'Babe It's Too Long Off', one of the few published pieces by Chauvin, you can really hear some similar movements and chords to this piece. I highly recommend listening to his wonderful talent and I wish we had gotten to hear more of his music.”

The Entertainer

"So here it is. Perhaps the most important Joplin composition ever transposed to Fingerstyle guitar. This was famously played by Chet Atkins and thus he was awarded a grammy in 1976 for 'Best Country Music Performance' however I was unaware that the arrangement was done by John Knowles C.G.P until I met him in Nashville last year. When speaking to John about it he also told me of another Joplin arrangement of which I will soon visit. This arrangement opened the doors for me in terms of how well Ragtime can work in Fingerstyle. Enter Richard Smith, one of the worlds best Fingerpickers and someone who's Joplin arrangements I will be frequenting. He comes along and proceeds to arrange the entire piece. 

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