What Time is It? Ragtime

What is Ragtime and When did it originate?

Ragtime is a music genre that is known for its rapid and upbeat rhythm. Ragtime originated in 1895 and lasted until 1920. Different from other genres of African American music, ragtime depended solely on the composition of music using the piano, and the music produced was recording on sheet paper, rather than having an audio recording.

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Ragtime was produced most in St. Louis Missouri. During the time of the origin and duration of the production of ragtime music, Blacks had endured cruel treatment and were segregated from whites. Although ragtime helps the progression of Black music and was often imitated by whites, it was common to hear ragtime in dancehalls, places where brothels were popular, and clubs. The common places where ragtime music was often played reflected the hardship and segregation that African American people endured during this time period.


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Ragtime music is known for having an off-beat sound. Some people describe ragtime music as swing music, while others refer to it as music that requires a “ march and two-step”. The sound of this music was said to stimulate a “looseness” in the body, that also led to “funky” dances, such as the grizzly bear, bunny hug, and turkey trot.



Some composers that gained notoriety for their ragtime music were Scott Joplin, Joseph Lamb, James Scott, Jelly Roll Morton, Tom Turpin, Mike Bernard, George Botsford, Zez Confrey, Sidney L. Perrin, and many more.

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Scott Joplin


Ragtime did not only have a significant impact on the African American community but also on European composers. For example, European classical composers, such as Claude Debussy portrayed the influence that ragtime had on his music in the pieces that he created on piano. One work that shows the evident influence of ragtime music on different genres and different works of art is the “ Golliwog’s Cake Walk” piece.

Overall, I believe that the upbeat sound of ragtime music contributed to the unique and distinct sound of African American music. Ragtime music has also led to the formation of many genres of music, such as Blues and Jazz.

Enjoy Ragtime music 


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