“Ra, Ra, Ra, Ragtime!”

Ragtime is a genre that was founded in the year 1896 and continued throughout the year 1920. It’s name was influenced by it’s performance style of composing and playing popular song, dance, and instrumental music.  Influenced by the rhythmic singing of negro spirituals, ragtime music consists of many instruments that complete it’s sound, such as, piano, whistling, and singing. Ragtime is known for its upbeat tempo and cheerful sound. It is entertaining to not only here the sound of the tune but, also to identify the feeling associated with the style of composed music in each song.

Throughout history, ragtime was considered as song, dance and syncopated instrumental music. This form of dance was first adopted by the Seminole Indians. It began showing up in the African-American community among the slaves, initially, as a couple dance. They would perform these dances for slave masters as a form of entertainment. Multiple couples would compete and whoever won would be given a cake as a prize. Therefore, the dance was given the name “cake walk”.[embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QifiyNm6jG4[/embedyt]

Some important performers who contributed to the development of ragtime were, Ernest Hogan, Tom Turpin and Tim Barrett. Tom Turpin was an artist from Savannah, Georgia. In his early twenties, he opened up “Turpin’s Saloon” in St. Louis, Missouri for local pianists and other musicians to be able to meet up and appreciate each other’s music. He is credited with being one of the first major African American composers of Ragtime music in the 1890s. Later on in his career, he opened up “Rosebud Bar”, which is known to be responsible for jump starting many pianists careers.

Many African American artists participated in “cutting contests”, a competition set up in order to identify the musician with the most creativity and skill. I see this as a form of commodification within music because it has provided the model for competition among black musicians today. Even though competition can be healthy for some of its participants, it can also be detrimental to an artists self-esteem and confidence in their work. Ragtime has went on to influence many styles of music but, has had a great impact on the foundations of many successful producers in the industry today, such as, Metro Boomin’ and Mike WiLL Made-It. All in all, I enjoy ragtime music for its originality and ability to change my mood from somber to joyful.



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