The ragtime genre originated in the late 19th century by African Americans who did not know how to read or write music. Most of the early composers did not get the recognition they deserved because of this. However, once ragtime became written tradition composers like Ernest Hogan, with his song “All Coons Look Alike to Me,” became very popular.  Ragtime was primarily played all around the midwestern area, but the main area was St. Louis, Missouri. People danced when they listen to ragtime being played on a piano. The composers left hand would play a steady beat while the right hand would play a syncopated rhythm. From 1896 to 1920 the genre was really popular because the songs were being used for silent films, cakewalks, and “coon songs.” Cakewalks were the one time the slaves could mock the dancing of the white people. The slave who danced the best “won” and was given a cake by his or her master. The saying “That takes the cake” comes from those dances. “Coon songs,” however, were meant to mock all black people. White men would go on stage with their faces painted black and present themselves as the stereotypical view of an African American. Although the ragtime music was used in a negative was, African Americans got inspired to create new music using some of the same characteristics as the ragtime genre. This genre was a huge contribution to the Jazz genre. After listening to some ragtime song, I think that it was originally the type of music to get everyone up and dancing. It was meant for entertainment not mocking. 

 

"All Coons Look Alike to Me" - Ernest Hogan

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