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Ragtime

This is an article about Ragtime music. For other uses of the word "Ragtime" see: Ragtime (disambiguation)


Ragtime is an American musical genre, enjoying its peak popularity around the years 1900-1915. Ragtime was preceded by its close relative the Cakewalk, but the emergence of mature ragtime is usually dated to 1897, the year in which several important early rags were published. In 1899 Scott Joplin's Maple Leaf Rag was published, which became a great hit and demonstrated more depth and sophistication than earlier ragtime. Ragtime is usually seen as one of the main precursors of jazz (along with the blues). Jazz largely surpassed ragtime in mainstream popularity in the early 1920s, although ragtime compositions continue to be written up to the present, and periodic revivals of popular interest in ragtime occurred in the 1950s and the 1970s.

Ragtime is mostly associated with the piano, but was and is also performed on other instruments, such as the guitar or banjo, or by groups of musicians.

Perhaps the principal characteristic of ragtime music is syncopation, with the melodic notes landing largely on the off-beats. On the piano the melody is usually played by the right hand, with shorter time values set against a steady quarter note bassline played by the left hand.

Arguably the most sophisticated and famous, though by no means the only, ragtime composer was Scott Joplin.

Other noted ragtime composers include William Bolcom[?], Zez Confrey[?], Ben Harney, Joseph Lamb, Artie Matthews, David Thomas Roberts[?], Paul Sarebresole, James Scott, and Wilber Sweatman.

See also: List of ragtime musicians



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