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3

Jazz’s Beginnings

footnotes

7. While ragtime was primarily a solo piano style, ragtime bands later emerged which performed ragtime music in a combo setting

III. Ragtime (1896-1917)

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upright piano


A. Ragtime was the direct precursor to jazz


B. Primarily a solo piano style7

   

incorporated military march like steady time in the left hand and syncopated (i.e., “ragged”) melodies in the right 


C. Ragtime reflected both African and European musical traditions

      

1.

African 

            

a.

complex right-hand syncopation derived from polyrhythms (several different rhythms played simultaneously) 

            

b.

ragtime was developed and first played primarily by African Americans and was a source of pride to African American composers, musicians, and listeners  

            

c.

the most prominent ragtime composer in history was Scott Joplin 

      

2.

European 

            

a.

the piano itself was of European origin 

            

b.

written musical notation 

            

c.

left-hand march beat 

            

d.

standard European chord progressions 


D. Ragtime’s cultural implications

      

1.

ragtime was developed in response to and reflected the “balance” of American attitude in the late 19th and early 20th century 

            

a.

the recognized and cherished American traditions (e.g., conservatism, motherhood, rural life) was symbolized by the piano itself (a “classical” instrument) and ragtime’s simple left-hand march rhythms 

            

b.

new fast pace living (e.g., expansion of lively public leisure, excitement of diverse urban populations and pleasures, etc.) was symbolized by ragtime’s ragged complex right-hand syncopation 

      

2.

ragtime was enjoyed by both European and African-Americans as it reflected the full gamut from conservative to liberal attitudes (note: music is in the ear of the beholder) 

            

a.

conservative example: ragtime was performed on the piano, a white middle class symbol of nostalgia and status 

            

b.

liberal example: ragtime’s syncopations, derived from Black musical traditions, reflected the exciting pace of modern industrial life 


E. play an example of Ragtime

   

"Maple Leaf Rag," Scott Joplin (IHJ) and/or "The Entertainer," Scott Joplin (Web) 

Audio Snippets

speakerspacer The Entertainer - John Arpin
the thelonious monk institute of jazz
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