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Friday, 23 June 2017


Ragtime is an Afro-American music that first appeared in the 1890s, and was composed for the piano. Each rag is a composition with several themes. The leading ragtime composer was Missouri native Scott Joplin.

Ragtime descended from the jigs and march music played by black bands. As more and more American families bought pianos for their homes during the late 1800s, the song-publishing industry grew larger. Ragtime pianists, players who added strong syncopations and rhythmic effects to the songs they played, began to appear. The first ragtime compositions were published as sheet music in 1895.

Ernest Hogan (1865–1909) was the first composer to have his ragtime pieces (or "rags") published. In 1895 Hogan composed several popular songs in a new musical genre, which he named ragtime. The term is actually derived from his hometown Shake Rag, a district in Bowling Green, Kentucky.

Ernest Hogan

The emergence of mature ragtime is usually dated to 1897, the year in which several important early rags were published.

Scott Joplin's "Maple Leaf Rag" was published on September 20, 1899. It demonstrated more depth and sophistication than earlier ragtime and was a huge hit. Joplin's future works would be prefixed as by the composer of the "Maple Leaf Rag".

Second edition cover of Maple Leaf Rag, one of the most famous rags

By the start of the 20th century, ragtime had become widely popular throughout North America and was listened and danced to, performed, and written by people of many different subcultures. The dance crazes that went with it were the Cakewalk and the Turkeytrot.

In 1911 Irving Berlin's "Alexander's Ragtime Band" became an international sensation, launching a vogue for popular ragtime songs.

:Irving Berlin - Ragtime

Rudyard Kipling referred to the musical craze of ragtime, which was sweeping the UK as "this imported heathendom. One doesn't feel very national when one is hummed at nasally by an alien."

When The Titanic sunk in 1912, the band played ragtime until the ship's bridge dipped underwater, then the bandmaster led his men in the Episcopal hymn, "Autumn".

Jazz largely surpassed ragtime in mainstream popularity in the early 1920s, although ragtime compositions continue to be written up to the present day.

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