Ragtime is an amazing musical style that thrived between 1895 and 1918. It is a upbeat, fun sound and its cardinal trait is its syncopated rhythm, meaning it has one steady beat in the background while the other beats vary, showing the skill of the artist. Ernest Hogan is known as the pioneer of ragtime and he was the first composer to have his ragtime pieces published as sheet music, beginning with the song “LA Pas Ma LA” published in 1895.
Ragtime was created by African Americans during the end of the 19th century. Its syncopated melody derives from “jigs” and march music played by Black bands. By the beginning of the 20th century ragtime was a popular genre that spread throughout the United States. Everywhere you went people everywhere listened, danced, performed, and wrote ragtime music. A well known artist named Ernest Hogan was one of the first rag time composers to create ragtime sheet music. One of his first creations was the popular “All Coons Look Alike to Me” which eventually sold a million copies.
Naturally, when Black people established this genre white people found it so fascinating that many white composers began creating ragtime sheet music also known as “rags”. The genre was very popular and has continued to make a reappearance through centuries. Ragtime influenced many classical musicians, jazz and blues. Its upbeat syncopation and rhythm can be seen in our music today and should touch the souls of all Black people.