Ragtime – then and now

When diving into the history of Jazz, some other music genres are mentioned frequently, the Blues, Gospel and also Ragtime (or Rag-Time).

Ragtime was very popular from the very end of the 19th century until about 1920, throughout the country, but then almost disappeared. Some sources say that it was absorbed in the Jazz, others rather think that Jazz overshadowed Ragtime with its popularity.

Ragtime has similar elements to Jazz, mainly the offbeat rhythm, but to the contrary to Jazz, there is little improvisation. Rather the melodies are elaborated in detail and are played based on notes.

Scott Joplin was at the boom time probably the most influencal and important Ragtime composer and player. His “Maple Leaf Rag” is an absolute cornerstone in the history of this genre, and he even composed two Ragtime operas. But also Jelly Roll Morton, James Scott and Joseph Lamb are mentioned frequently.

Although Ragtime never has become as popular again as in the early years of the last century, it is by far not dead. A small but active scene has established itself. In the beginning, mainly pieces from Scott Joplin were re-recorded (e.g. by Josh Rifkin and the New England Ragtime Ensemble), but there is also new Ragtime music created, Trebor Jay Tichernor being a central figure in the scene.

Ragtime – worth looking into or rather listening to, as this is the best way to experience it.


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