Don't Throw in the Towel...It's Ragtime!


This simple creation of ragtime reveals how African-Americans are naturally creative, gifted, and advanced in the arts. 


Ragtime is a genre of music played on the piano. Ragtime gets its name because of the “ragged” nature of the upbeat piano playing. Ragtime music was the first time that Black artists were launched in mainstream U.S. music. Black people demonstrate their abilities, their talents, and music creativity through ragtime. Ragtime was most popular from 1896 to 1920. Before it became a popular genre, ragtime was easy for anyone to learn since it was typically played in Black homes. The pianist would learn to play the steady chords and bass notes on the left hand while playing the “ragged” syncopated melodies on the right hand. Ragtime was so unique to Black Americans, and it reveals their natural ability to make music.

However, white people fell back into their habits of theft and stole ragtime. They made a complete mockery of ragtime. White people used ragtime to oppress Black people through blackface, minstrel shows, and cakewalks. Scott Joplin is one of the greatest ragtime pianists of all time. Joplin was born in 1868 in Texarkana, Texas. He was raised by his mother, a singer, and his father, a banjo player, and violinist. Joplin first learned to play the guitar but later discovered his talent for piano playing. Joplin’s ragtime music is easily recognized because it is everywhere, even today. Some of his most well-known songs are” The Entertainer” (1902),” “Solace” (1987), and “Maple Leaf Rag” (1899), which is actually the first written piece of music to sell over a million copies.


Although their contributions are overlooked, African-Americans created a whole new lane for piano players with the creation of ragtime. Ragtime came so naturally to Black piano players and the genre demonstrates the creativity of Black musicians. This ultimately backfired as white people used ragtime for minstrel shows. 

Works Cited

“History of Ragtime.” The Library of Congress, 

“Ragtime.” Grove Music Online, 

samspearmusic, Post author By, and Name (required). “Ragtime’s Complicated Relationship to Racism in the United States.” Sam Spear Music, 30 June 2020, “What Is Jazz?” Jazz in America,

What's your password?

Login to your account

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website.