Ragtime

Ragtime is a genre that was very popular throughout the 1920s. Ragtime was played on the piano and disseminated through sheet music. Originally it was music created by Black people for Black people. The upbeat music was enjoyed in bars, saloons, brothels etc. Ragtime was unique in that it incorporated syncopation. While one hand played one thing on the piano(on beats 1 and 3), the other would play something else in the silence or to harmonize with the first tune(on beats 2 and 4). This new sound revolutionized music. 

Through Ragtime emerged coon songs. This was a large part of the commodification of ragtime. Coon songs were songs with degrading lyrics about Black people performed for white audiences. Performers of coon songs included white people in Black face and Black people in minstrel shows. In addition ragtime birthed cake walks. A cakewalk was performed by Black couples for white audiences. These couples would walk arm and walk in a way which mocked their white bosses. The performers were typically competing for a cake hence why it is called cakewalk. A video of the cakewalk can be seen below.

Popular artists of ragtime include Scott Joplin, Jelly Roll Morton, and James Hubert (Eubie) Blake. One of the most famous ragtime compositions was Maple Leaf Rag by Scott Joplin.

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