A Jaida Langham Post
The gag about ragtime is that it existed long before music was given a name. Ragtime refers to a performance style as opposed to a specific genre. It has African American musical roots, but through contemporary opinions there is a determination of the degree and quality of African American and European American musical elements. Ragtime is defined according to its duality between written music and oral tradition, between early jazz and classical, between European American music and African American music.
The main thing to consider is that ragtime was created an popularized by itinerant African American musicians, many of whom didn’t know how to write music. Ragtime was mostly composed, piano music related to artists including but not limited to Scott Joplin and James Scott. The mood of ragtime was excessively happy, and had characteristics of un-complex rhythm, boring, impersonal, heavy with piano and “white” musical characteristics. Ragtime was a genre that catered to white entertainment, and heavily influenced the future of theatre music.
Ragtime was generally marketed in cakewalk, coon songs, and minstrel shows in its beginning times. And as ragtime emerged it left its original roots of being orally transmitted to printed sheet music. This is directly related to the increase of white ragtime demonstrations and the commodification of ragtime. White people are the ones who transcribed the music and from this began a commercially successful branch of publishing music.
Ragtime could be considered in my opinion a whitewashed/ white catered form of Jazz. Ragtime is in a sense a very restrictive form of Jazz. Personally not a fan of ragtime as a genre because of where and how it was used; but overall, African American musicians dominated the ragtime music culture. When Europeans tried to replicate and imitate ragtime compositions, the result was not as successful.
"Can't compare, where you don't compete"