Ragtime music took its claim to fame in the late 1800s (1893-1917). The genre of Ragtime preceded jazz and was based on a structure of broken melodies. Styles of music that came before Ragtime included cakewalks and coon songs: songs that disrespected and degraded the African American community. As Ragtime grew, it was considered the first African American music and consists of the well known composers: Scott Joplin, Jelly Roll Morton, Eubie Blake, James, P. Johnson, Jospeh Lamb, and James Scott.
Ragtime was a modification of the popular march, where notes were accented on the 1st and 3rd beats as opposed to the 2nd and 4th beats, and is said to be a “mixture of African American syncopation” and European classical music. Additionally, Ragtime is considered to be a subgenre or style of classical music because of the way it was performed. Unlike jazz music where the musician could improvise, the music written on the sheet music was exactly what the ragtime musician had to play. For this, ragtime was considered a subgenre of style of music because of its limitations to structure. Some styles of Ragtime include:
Classic Ragtime (popularized by Scott Joplin)
The most famous composer of Ragtime is Scott Joplin. Scott Joplin’s instrumental piece, Maple Leaf Rag, was the first instrumental sheet music that sold over one million copies. Joplin is considered as one of America’s classical geniuses. His, along with Eubie Blake’s Charleston Rag, is below.