Ragtime is considered the first completely American music. The genre was popular towards the end of the 19th century and beginning of the 20th (approximately from 1893 to 1917). It is known as the style of music that proceeded jazz. The rhythms which were lively made it the ideal genre for dancing. 



The origins of Ragtime developed in African American communities throughout the southern parts of the Midwest, specifically St. Louis.  The music spread like wildfire and because this genre predated sound recordings, it became widespread through the sale of published sheet music and piano rolls. Earnest Hogan coined the term “rag-time” as he was the first ragtime composer to have his music published as sheet music. 

The characteristic of ragtime music is a specific type of syncopation where melodic accents fall between metrical beats. 

Ragtime pieces are capable of standing alone, embellishments and improvisation were not usually permitted with this genre. It was desirable to play a piece the same way every time. 

During the 1900-1920s ragtime was at its heights.


Influencers of the genre consisted of the likes of Scott Joplin, who was the most famous composer of ragtime music. He composed two of the genres most popular pieces, “The Entertainer” and “Maple Leaf Rag”. He was often referred to as the King of Ragtime. Next is Jelly Roll Morton who performed infamous songs of the genre such as “King Porter Stomp” and “Black Bottom Stomp”. James P. Johnson was one of the originators of the style known as stride piano. He combined elements of ragtime and blues with improvisation which lead the way toward early jazz. Joseph Lamb, James Scott and Eubie Blake are other notable names of the genre.