A Comparative Study of the Development of Ragtime

12 December 2017

Blues, work songs, ragtime, spirituals, and minstrel songs were, in their own ways, all part of the great “Fractionation of American music” that was originated by enslaved Africans in the southern United States. But the greatest of the musical forms developed In this process was jazz–one of the major American contributions to world culture.

Each of these forms of music made essential contributions to the development of Jazz Itself but each, more or less, retained Its own Integrity and none could be said to have been transformed into jazz.What differentiated Jazz from these earlier styles was the widespread use of improvisation, often by more than one player at a time. Jazz represented a break from Western musical traditions, where the composer wrote a piece of music on paper and the musicians then tried their best to play exactly what was in the score. In a Jazz piece, the song is often Just a starting point or frame of reference for the musicians to Improvise around. The song might have been a popular ditty or blues that they didn’t compose, but by the time they were finished with it they had composed a new piece that often bore little resemblance to the original song.Many of these virtuoso musicians were not good sight readers and some could not read music at all, nevertheless their playing thrilled audiences and the spontaneous music they created captured a joy and sense of adventure that was an exciting and radical departure from the music of that time. The first Jazz was played by African-American and Creole musicians In New Orleans.

The cornet player, Buddy Bolder Is generally considered to be the first real Jazz musician. Other early players included Freddie Sheppard, Bunk Johnson and Clarence Williams.Although these musicians names are unknown to most people, then and owe, their ideas are still being elaborated to this day. Most of these men could not make a living with their music and were forced to work menial Jobs to get by. Throughout the growth of Jazz music, various forms were created and developed In different geographic regions. Two very notable styles of Jazz music are Ragtime and Dixieland. TLS paper will analyze and explore the development of both Ragtime and Dixieland throughout the late 19th century and early 20th century.

Ragtime rhythms appeared in print as early as the first half of the nineteenth century, but the first published ragtime piece is generally acknowledged to be “Mississippi Rag”, composed by William Krill in 1897. Later that same year, Tom Turnip became the first black composer to publish a ragtime composition with his work “Harlem Rag. ” Both are well crafted and suggest that the ragtime style had been In Incubation for some time prior to their appearance. By the turn of the century, the ragtime craze was in full swing, so much so that highbrow critics felt compelled to attack it. Ragtime’s days are numbered,” declared Metronome magazine. “We are sorry to hint that anyone should imagine that ragtime was of the least musical importance. It was a popular wave in the wrong direction.

” That same year, the American Federation musicians know what is good, and if the people don’t, we will have to teach them. ” 1 In the midst of this rapid dissemination of a new musical style, the term “rag” invariably became both overused and misapplied, often being employed to denote a wide range of African-American musical idioms.Many pieces from this period use the word “rag” in their title while bearing little resemblance to what has come to be now as “classic” rag style, Just as many so-called “blues” compositions strayed, sometimes considerably, from the standard twelve-bar form. Nevertheless as the style evolved, ragtime developed into a structured four-theme form, with each melody typically encompassing sixteen bars. The most common form for these classic rag pieces was BACKED, with a modulation to a different key typically employed for the C theme.Although the published ragtime compositions came to include vocal works and band arrangements, this style reached its highest pitch as a form of solo piano music. In many ways, the spread of this Jubilant new music went hand in hand with the growing popularity of pianos in turn-of-the-century American households.

Between 1890 and 1909, total piano production in the United States grew from under 100,000 instruments per year to over 350,000–and it is worth noting that 1909 marked the peak level not only in American piano production, but also in the number of ragtime pieces published.By 1911, a staggering 295 separate companies manufacturing pianos had set up operations in the United States, with another 69 businesses producing piano supplies. During this same period, player pianos increasingly made their way into homes and gathering places. In 1897, the same year that witnessed the publication of the first ragtime piece, the Angelus cabinet player piano, the first such instrument to use a pneumatic “push-up” device to depress the keys, was released to an enthusiastic marketplace. By 1919 player pianos constituted over half the output of the U. S. Piano industry.

These two powerful trends, the spread of pianos into American households and the growing popularity of mechanical player pianos, helped spur the enormous public demand or ragtime music during the early years of the twentieth century. This unprecedented outpouring of ragtime artistry was centered, to a striking degree, in a fairly small geographical area. Just as the rural blues blossomed in the atmosphere of the Mississippi Delta, and as early Jazz would later flourish in the environs of New Orleans, so early ragtime reached its zenith in turn-of-the-century Missouri. The cities of Saddles, Cartage, and SST.Louis, among others, boasted a glittering array of rag composers, as well as an ambitious group of music publishers who recognized the extraordinary body of talent at hand. In Saddles, a booming railroad town that almost became the state capital, Scott Joplin gathered a cadre of promising rag composers around him, including his students Scott Hayden and Arthur Marshall. Saddles music publisher John Stark, a major advocate for ragtime in general and Joplin in particular, proved to be an important catalyst in bringing the work of these local composers to the attention of the broader public.

Stark, Joplin, and Hayden eventually moved to SST. Louis, another major center of rag activity during these glory years. The local composers here included Louis Chauvinism, an exceptionally talented dative of the city who left behind all too few compositions, as well as Tom Turnip and Artier Matthews. In Cartage, Missouri, James Scott created a number of outstanding where Scott worked. With the exception of Joseph Lamb, a white composer from Montclair, New Jersey, virtually all the leading exponents of the classic rag style made their home, at one point or another, in Missouri.Scott Joplin stands out as the greatest of these composers. While others may have written rags that were more technically demanding or boasted more striking novelty effects, none could approach he “structural elegance, the melodic inventiveness, or the unflagging commitment to artistry” that characterized Joplin major works.

Nor would any other rag composer match Joplin ambitions for the music–ambitions that led to the composition of two operas, a ballet, and other works that squarely challenged the lowbrow reputation of the rag idiom.Although his more daring works never gained the acceptance, at least during his lifetime, that Joplin craved, his reputation stands out today all the more due to the high standards to which he aspired. Joplin was born in Texans, Texas, n November 24, 1868. His father, the former slave Giles Joplin, had played the violin for house parties given by the local slave-owner in the days before the Emancipation Proclamation, while his mother, Florence Givens Joplin, sang and played the banjo.The banjo may have had a particular impact on Coot’s musical sensibilities: the syncopated rhythms of nineteenth-century African-American banjo music are clear predecessors of the later piano rag style. While Scott was still in his youth, his father left the family, and his mother was forced to rely on domestic work to support her six hillier. Joplin exhibited his affinity for the keyboard at an early age.

He often accompanied his mother to the houses where she worked and would play and improvise on the piano while she went about her chores.By his teens, Joplin had established himself as a professional pianist, with opportunities to play at churches, clubs, and social gatherings in the border area of Texas and Arkansas. Later he became involved in teaching music as well as in singing with a vocal quintet that performed widely in the region. During this period, Joplin made his first attempts at composition. At some point in the mid-sass, Joplin moved to SST. Louis, where he earned his livelihood primarily as a pianist, both as a soloist in saloons and other nightspots as well as with a band.The ensemble work gave Joplin an opportunity to develop the skills in arranging that would later reach their pinnacle in orchestrations for his two operas.

Joplin made his home in SST. Louis for almost a decade, but he traveled widely during these years. At some point in the mid-sass, Joplin settled down in Saddles, where he eventually began studying harmony and composition at the nearby George R. Smith College for Negroes. Around 1897, Joplin wrote the “Maple Leaf Rag,” a composition that would soon become the most famous ragtime piece of its day.It wasn’t until two years later that John Stark published the work, and in the first year only four hundred copies were sold. But in the fall of 1900, the “Maple Leaf Rag” caught on with the general public, eventually becoming the first piece of sheet music to sell more than one million copies.

This figure is all the more stunning when one realizes that there were fewer than 100,000 professional musicians and music teachers in the United States at the time. Amateur pianists, for their part, must have found it anything but easy to navigate the technical and rhythmic difficulties of Joplin celebrated rag.However, many purchased the sheet music and labored over its intricate syncopation. Joplin career produced a plethora Civil War period [1861-65], African-Americans in the south were freed from slavery. In New Orleans, many blacks began forming bands and played for many occasions, such as church and lodge events, parades, picnics, celebrations, and funerals. They played much the way they had sung–using the African “natural” vocal style with employ rhythmic structures. By the sass, small bands of 5 to 8 players were being formed and Dixieland Jazz was launched.

Usually these bands consisted of three solo instruments and a rhythm section. The solo instruments included the cornet or trumpet, the clarinet, and the trombone. The cornet usually played the main melody of the piece, the clarinet wove an improvised second part above the cornet part (usually in a faster rhythm), and the trombone added slides for rhythmic drive. The syncopation and rhythmic independence of the melodic instruments created a ravenous sense of excitement. This use of three different parts is an example of polyphony, mentioned in the first section of this curriculum guide.The rhythm section clearly marked the beat and provided a background of chords to support the three solo instruments. This section usually consisted of a banjo or guitar, drums, a tuba, and sometimes a piano.

String bass and the saxophone were later added during the sass’s. The tunes of New Orleans Jazz were usually based on well known pieces such as marches, church melodies, ragtime pieces, popular songs, or specially the 12-bar blues. The Jazz bands rarely used written music; in fact, most of the musicians were self-taught and could not read music. A new player was told, “Just listen awhile, then play what you feel. Like folk music, this type of Jazz was handed down through an aural / oral tradition, not by a written one. There was a set formula for playing Dixieland. One or more choruses of collective improvisation generally occurred at the beginning and the end of a piece, called Jamming.

In between, individual players were featured in improvised solos, accompanied by the withy section or by the whole band. Sometimes there were brief unaccompanied solos, called breaks. The band’s performance might begin with an introduction and end with a brief coda, or tag.Often these bands marched through the city of New Orleans, or rode in horse-drawn wagons with advertising strips on each side (the bands played to attract attention to the advertising). The band, particularly the three solo instruments, were called the front line. People attracted to the band would walk in front of, along side, or behind the band. They were called the second line.

Usually the trombone player sat in the rear of the wagon on the open tailgate, facing backwards, so he would not bump into other players with the slide part of the instrument.The terms tailgate slide and tailgate trombone come from this way of sitting in the wagon. The term Dixieland became widely used after the advent of the first million-selling hit records of the Original Dixieland Sass Band in 1917. The music has been played continuously since the early part of the 20th century. Louis Armstrong’s All-stars was the band most popularly identified with Dixieland, although Armstrong’s own influence runs through all of Jazz. Many Dixieland groups consciously imitated the recordings and bands of decades earlier.Other musicians continued to create innovative performances and original new tunes.

Some fans of post bebop Jazz consider Dixieland to no longer be a vital part of Jazz, while some adherents consider music in the traditional style, when well and creatively played, is jazz is the first indigenous American style to affect music in the rest of the World. From the beat of ragtime syncopation and driving brass bands to soaring gospel hours mixed with field hollers and the deep down growl of the blues, Jazz’s many roots are celebrated almost everywhere in the United States.Throughout the years jazz has developed and changed in various ways but still holds true to its roots. From the inception of the idea of Jazz various forms of this style of music were derived. Two very significant of these fundamental forms are ragtime and Dixieland. During the late 19th Century and early 20th Century these two sectors of Jazz developed and are still well appreciated and utilized in the music society of today.

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