During the late 19th century, early 20th century, Ragtime made its debut. It was different because of its incorporation of the piano. This genre not only made great music but also made piano sells increase dramatically.
This dance music was a musical phenomenon during its time and is still influencing music today. Of course, although African Americans were the creators of this genre, they did not reap the benefits of their creation. White people began to create ragtime styled music and it spread to Europe. Majority of the profit made from sheet music was not seen by its creators.
The left hand played a steady tune while the right hand played syncopated melodies in a “ragged” manor. Songs were sung in negro dialect but there was both instrumental and vocal ragtime music.
Scott Joplin is known as the “King of Ragtime”. His song “The Maple Leaf Rag” is the best selling rag-time song in history. Jelly Roll Morton and James Scott were also notable artists during the ragtime era.
The Cake Walk was a dance originally performed by slaves on plantations for their masters. The dance was a parody of slave masters, black people would dress up and imitate white people and their dancing. In spite of it mocking the masters, they thoroughly enjoyed judging the performance. The winner would receive a cake, hence the name Cake Walk. It later was performed by whites in black face and sometimes black people in minstrel shows and was the ragtime dance.
Ragtime was a great, “up-beat” genre that made a lot of people dance. The blatant racism associated with this time era is rather disheartening though. Things like “Coon Songs” and “Cake Walking” made studying this genre difficult for me as a modern day African-American.