Women in Ragtime

The Influence of Ragtime:

The ragtime era was arguably the most influential era of music for all genres because of the way it changed the composition of music. Ragtime was the first style of music that was played off the beat meaning instead of emphasizing the beats that were already stressed, they emphasized the weak ones. This started the trend of utilizing syncopation in music. Black people started this style of music in order to have music that was fun to dance to. Black people improvised ragtime music off the beat, but other races began to compose music that way. Ragtime styled music influenced jazz, blues, and many more genres to come.

Women's Roles:

Unlike most areas of life, women, Black women in particular, thrived in the ragtime era. Because white men had most of the control over the media, the stages, and vinyl record production, they also controlled who became popular artists and who’s talent would be stifled. The white men hated seeing Black men on any big stage outside of degrading roles such as ones portrayed in minstrel shows, but when it came to Black women performing, their hatred subsided and they allowed it. Women went on to become ragtime composers, performers, and even joined groups.

Winifred Atwell

-Trinidadian Woman

-Outstanding Pianist

-Composed her own music 

-Had multiple hits in the 1950s

-Performed in front of the Queen of England


Lasting Effects:

The advancements of ragtime music effect the way that music is written and produced today. Without the contribution of ragtime women composers and performers such as Winifred Atwell music might still be played without any creativity or flavor that syncopation added to music. The individuality that Black people, Black women in particular, brought to music during the ragtime era is irreplaceable.

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