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Ragtime

Era: 1890s - 1900s - 1910s

Related black music - dance music - American music - syncopation - jazz

Ragtime patrol (1899) - Charles Jerome Wilson
Image sourced here.

Definition

Ragtime is an American musical genre, enjoying its peak popularity around the years 19001918. Ragtime is a dance form written in 2/4 or 4/4 time, with bass notes played on the odd-numbered beats and chords played on the even-numbered beats. Many ragtime pieces contain four distinct themes. Ragtime music is syncopated, with rhythmic accents on the weak beats.

The etymology of the word ragtime is not known with certainty. One theory is that the "ragged time" associated with the walking bass set against the melodic line gives the genre its name.

Ragtime originated in African American musical communities, in the late 19th century, and descended from the jigs and marches played by all-black bands common in all Northern cities with black populations (van der Merwe 1989, p.63). By the start of the 20th century it became widely popular throughout North America and was listened and danced to, performed, and written by people of many different subcultures. A distinctly American musical style, ragtime may be considered a synthesis of African-American syncopation and European classical music, though this description is oversimplified. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ragtime [Mar 2006]

See also: black music - dance music - American music - 1890s - 1900s - 1910s

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