A Quick Glance at Ragtime Music by Sidnee Salter
Ragtime music ran its course from approximately 1896 to 1920. Ragtime Music is typically associated with the “Roaring Twenties” because this is the time when it got the most play and was the most popular in African American communities. Unlike other genres of African American music, ragtime is played by the common people and is known for its sheet music, upbeat music, pianos, and syncopation. This type of music originated in St. Louis, Missouri; where its most famous artist “Eubie Banks” grew up. Ragtime music is often associated with a dance called the Cakewalk. The Cakewalk dance was a couples dance made by slaves. In the dance, couples of black people would dress in their best clothing and try their best to mock their slave masters. This was a form of entertainment for the white people. In fact, they often rewarded the couple with the best imitation of their slave masters a whole cake; hence the name. This is why we we hear the saying ‘that was a cake walk’. It means that someone did something so well that they earned the desired reward. Personally, I do not like the Cake Walk. I think it is degrading to black people and makes a mockery of slavery as a whole. As far as Ragtime music, I think it is fairly unique compared to the preceding forms of black music. It is something that takes true talent as the piano playing aspect part of the music is very complex. In ragtime music, the right hand is more syncopated than the left hand. The right hand plays the ‘swag’ music, while the left hand keeps a steady beat. Some famous ragtime artists are “Eubie Banks” and George Johnson.