Ragtime by Makayla Leonard 

Ragtime lasted from the years 1896-1920. Post slavery black musicians could only play in bars and brothels, therefore that is where ragtime became popularized. The basis of creating a ragtime song was a syncopation, which is a temporary disruption in the regular rhythm of a song.

Ragtime eventually became another means for white people to embarrass and discredit black artists. Along with Ragtime came the appearance of Minstrel shows which displayed white artists in black face and acting like exaggerated black stereotypes. Even black men were forced to were black face in order to star in these shows as a form of humiliation. Rag time also consists of cakewalks that were performed by black couples who were imitating wealthy white people. The best slave would win cake as a price from their master.

A ragtime composition is usually composed three or four contrasting sections or strains, each one being 16 or 32 measures in length. Coon songs and cakewalks — the latter especially composed for dancing.

“The Cakewalk originated in the South during Slavery and known as a “slave dance contest”. The slaves would take the time to dress up in bowties, wide brim hats, and dressy shirts to mimic their slave owners.”

Popular Instruments: Ragtime interments include primarily the piano, flute, clarinet, bass drum, and violins. 

Legacy: From ragtime came jazz, and from ragtime bands came the jubilee quartets. 


Ragtime established the foundation genres like blues, jazz, and even R&B. Ragtime was the syncopation of tunes. Jazz music was heavily influenced by rag, as you listen to jazz you can hear different instruments and tunes all coming together.