Ragtime

Rhythms brought from a musical heritage in Africa were incorporated into cakewalks, coon songs and the music of "jig bands" which eventually evolved into Ragtime. Circa 1895, the first Ragtime song was published by Ben Harney. The music, vitalized by the opposing rhythms common to African dance, was vibrant, enthusiastic and often extemporaneous.

Notably the precursor to Jazz styles, early Ragtime music was set forth in marches, waltzes and other traditional song forms but the common characteristic was syncopation. Syncopated notes and rhythms became so popular with the public that sheet music publishers included the word "syncopated" in advertising. In 1899, a classically trained young pianist from Missouri named Scott Joplin published the first of many Ragtime compositions that would come to shape the music of a nation.

 

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