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Easier piece similar to Joplin's Bethena?
#2526030 03/30/16 12:00 PM
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TrevorM Offline OP
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I really like Scott Joplin's Bethena, but it's way above my level right now.

Can anyone recommend pieces that are similar, but much easier? I'm currently working from pieces at the beginning of Piano Adventures Book 4, so I guess around the grade 2-3 mark? Thanks! smile


Roland F130-R
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Re: Easier piece similar to Joplin's Bethena?
TrevorM #2526052 03/30/16 01:21 PM
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There's a book of Joplin arrangements -"Simply Joplin"- that has a simplified Bethena. I have no experience with it, maybe somebody here does. There are some original ragtime-style pieces from M. Meir "Jazz, Rages, and Blues", also "Pepperbox Jazz" series that are written for us lower-level types. I also tried one by Valerie Capers last year. Don't know if any of these would meet your criteria but they are easier. Although I have to say even the easier ragtime pieces are hard for me. Not "Bach"-hard, but still challenging.


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Re: Easier piece similar to Joplin's Bethena?
TrevorM #2526096 03/30/16 03:32 PM
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Originally Posted by TrevorM
Can anyone recommend pieces that are similar, but much easier?


As ajames says, your best bet is to find an arrangement.

What you are looking for is a ragtime waltz or syncopated waltz.

Joplin wrote two ragtime waltzes (and three non-syncopated waltzes): "Bethena" and "Pleasant Moments".

Pleasant Moments is easier than Bethena, but beyond grade 2 or 3.


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Re: Easier piece similar to Joplin's Bethena?
TrevorM #2526112 03/30/16 04:04 PM
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Not specifically ragtime, but maybe try the Waltz from Amy Beach's Children's Album.

http://imslp.org/wiki/Children%27s_Album,_Op.36_(Beach,_Amy_Marcy)

Re: Easier piece similar to Joplin's Bethena?
Whizbang #2526146 03/30/16 05:37 PM
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Thanks everyone for your suggestions!

Originally Posted by ajames
There's a book of Joplin arrangements -"Simply Joplin"- that has a simplified Bethena. I have no experience with it, maybe somebody here does. There are some original ragtime-style pieces from M. Meir "Jazz, Rages, and Blues", also "Pepperbox Jazz" series that are written for us lower-level types. I also tried one by Valerie Capers last year. Don't know if any of these would meet your criteria but they are easier. Although I have to say even the easier ragtime pieces are hard for me. Not "Bach"-hard, but still challenging.


I actually have the Simply Joplin book lying around somewhere, but I'd sort of dismissed arrangements a bit. Maybe I'll get my teacher to play it and see how it actually sounds!

I've had a look at the Jazz Rags and Blues books before but couldn't really get into them. Maybe I'll have another look.

Hadn't heard of Valerie Capers before, but there seems to be a grade 4 ABRSM piece called Billy's Song which is really nice. Not a waltz, but I think I'll add that to my "to play later" list. smile

Originally Posted by David Farley
Not specifically ragtime, but maybe try the Waltz from Amy Beach's Children's Album.

http://imslp.org/wiki/Children%27s_Album,_Op.36_(Beach,_Amy_Marcy)


Oh, this is nice. It's missing the kind of ragtime-y pep that makes Bethena appeal to me, though.

Originally Posted by Whizbang
As ajames says, your best bet is to find an arrangement.


Yeah, it looks like arrangements might be the way to go. I think I'll give the arrangement from Simply Joplin a whirl and see how I get on.


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Re: Easier piece similar to Joplin's Bethena?
TrevorM #2526182 03/30/16 07:45 PM
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I think Joplin's "Augustan Club Waltz" is easier. Not beginner, but easier than Bethena or Pleasant Moments.


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Re: Easier piece similar to Joplin's Bethena?
TrevorM #2534459 04/27/16 11:54 AM
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A little update. I purchased the "Simply Joplin" book and compared the score to the original. It's actually very similar: it's in the same key, and the notes are almost identical, save for a few taken out to make it a bit easier to play. It also has some bars taken out of the middle to make it a bit shorter (I think the original goes on for nearly 6 minutes!).

I was really pleased by this because it meant that work I put in now isn't wasted when I want to graduate to the "proper" version.

Anyway, I've just started working on it with my teacher as my kind of "stretch" piece. Way harder than anything else I'm studying, but not outrageously so. Wish me luck!


Roland F130-R
Re: Easier piece similar to Joplin's Bethena?
TrevorM #2534486 04/27/16 12:58 PM
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Good Luck! thumb Thanks for the update. I've been thinking about getting that book as well- might have to try it now.


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Re: Easier piece similar to Joplin's Bethena?
ajames #2534550 04/27/16 04:14 PM
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I think I've found the easiest version of Bethena that still sounds really nice, yet it's simpler than the version in Mary Sallee's "Simply Joplin"

Here's the Book at Amazon:

http://www.amazon.com/Scott-Joplins-Greatest-Composer-Collection/dp/0793505771/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1461789404&sr=1-1&keywords=Scott+Joplin%27s+Greatest+Hits

I bought this book about 6 years ago, along with "Simply Joplin" after watching the movie "Benjamin Button" and realizing that the main musical theme was "Bethena". The "Simply Joplin" version was a little above my late elementary skill level at the time, but this Scott Joplin's Greatest Hits book had an early intermediate version that was "challenging but attainable" with "smaller-spanned chords" that allows someone with limited playing ability to master the syncopation that makes this piece work. It sounds "good" and I still enjoy pulling out this book and playing it once in a while. I'll never play the full unabridged version which I also have,(what an optimist I am!) but I'm so glad I kinda fell in love with "Bethena" and can play this easy version. If you end up watching the movie, you'll love "Bethena" even more! It feels like a Stephen King movie, but the story that the movie is based on, was written by F. Scott Fitzgerald ...in 1924!

Last edited by Emissary52; 04/27/16 04:15 PM.

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Re: Easier piece similar to Joplin's Bethena?
TrevorM #2534635 04/27/16 10:07 PM
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Originally Posted by TrevorM
Anyway, I've just started working on it with my teacher as my kind of "stretch" piece. Way harder than anything else I'm studying, but not outrageously so. Wish me luck!


Sweet! If you get this to a place you are happy with, I would love to hear it on an Adult Beginner's Forums quarterly recital!


Whizbang
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Re: Easier piece similar to Joplin's Bethena?
Whizbang #2534674 04/28/16 04:23 AM
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Originally Posted by Whizbang
Originally Posted by TrevorM
Anyway, I've just started working on it with my teacher as my kind of "stretch" piece. Way harder than anything else I'm studying, but not outrageously so. Wish me luck!


Sweet! If you get this to a place you are happy with, I would love to hear it on an Adult Beginner's Forums quarterly recital!


I like your confidence in my piano playing ability, Whizbang, but I think it'll be a while yet! I can (fairly confidently) play the first 10-12 bars with left and right hand individually after a couple of days, but hands together is another thing altogether. I think it'll be a while! laugh

Last edited by TrevorM; 04/28/16 06:36 AM.

Roland F130-R
Re: Easier piece similar to Joplin's Bethena?
Emissary52 #2534675 04/28/16 04:32 AM
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Originally Posted by Emissary52
I think I've found the easiest version of Bethena that still sounds really nice, yet it's simpler than the version in Mary Sallee's "Simply Joplin"

Here's the Book at Amazon:

http://www.amazon.com/Scott-Joplins-Greatest-Composer-Collection/dp/0793505771/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1461789404&sr=1-1&keywords=Scott+Joplin%27s+Greatest+Hits


Thanks for the tip! The first bit of Bethena is in the Amazon "Look Inside" preview and it looks like it's also in the same key as the original. I might give it a go when I get home.

And, yes, I've seen Benjamin Button a couple of times. It's a great movie! smile


Roland F130-R

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