Lets talk about Rag Time !

Origin of Rag Time~  The term “Ragtime” was born in 1890 but was in existence long before. Its roots reside in the African American culture.

Characteristics~  Ragtime popularity years 1896-1920.  Mostly composed for an audence “generally in duple meter and containing a highly syncopated treble lead over a rhythmically steady beat. ”

Social implications, commodifications~  from the genre of ragtime brought “cakewalks” and “coon songs”. Coon songs are songs mostly sung by white men in blackface or  portraying stereotypes of African American. These degrading and wretched  songs were preformed for white people for their entertainment. Cakewalks were also a form of humiliation for African Americans. Cakewalks were competitions that used “parody” of “white behavior”.  African Americans were made to dance in a circle and dance and the winner would win a cake. Hence the name “cakewalk”. Because ragtime is genre made for pianos, the popularity of ragtime boosted the sales of pianos. The fame of ragtime made it to Europe and encouraged some of their music also.

Important Performers~

Scott Joplin- “King of Ragtime” wrote 44 ragtime pieces.  known works include “Maple Leaf Rag”

Eubie Blake- Pianist of RagtimeOne of first Broadway musicals to be written and directed by African American..

Josep Lamb-  Irish ragtime composer. Known work include “American Beauty” and “Alaskan Rag”



influences of Future Genres~  This African American genre  influenced Jazz, Rock n Roll and many more. It was the spark of American music to come.

Conclusory opinion~ Ragtime was meant for thrill and pleasure for hang out places for African Americans until the white man made “coon songs” and “cakewalks” to once  again humiliate and degrade the black culture because they lack culture of their own. The tactics they used against are absolutely disgusting.

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