Cleopatra Rag (1915) is one of twelve of Joseph Lamb’s piano rags published by Stark Music Company. In an advertisement for the piece, the publisher attests that “Lamb has the gift of melody and the genius of harmonization.” Cleopatra Rag is immediately memorable to listeners within the first four bars of its opening section, with its accented thirteenth chords and “skipping” melodic rhythm. Lamb’s “genius of harmonization” is evident in the C section, which begins with a first inversion tonic chord preceded by a descending bass line; the effect is one of great richness and warmth.
The idyllic “Egyptian” sheet music cover was used by Stark Music Company for the publication of other pieces: James Scott’s Sunburst Rag (1909) and Scott Joplin’s Reflection Rag (1917). Guido Nielsen’s canonical recording Joseph F. Lamb: The Complete Stark Rags is available for download from Amazon Music and iTunes; Sheet music of these rags is available at imslp.org.