Blues and Ragtime

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Topics: Blues
Ragtime was a very influential part of the development of jazz. Ragtime became very popular in the late 1800's. Ragtime's distinct style set it apart from the other genres. Syncopation is what defines this art form. This is when the loud accents fall in between the beats. Anything that is syncopated is basically ragtime. One of the most important ragtime composers was Scott Joplin. Like all great artists, Joplin did not restrict himself to this favored art form. Both before the advent of ragtime and after, Joplin composed marches and waltzes, including the syncopated waltzes. There's more to ragtime than syncopation, while some very good ragtime is not of the classic form. But the lines are often blurred. Ragtime's influence on other musical genres dictates that part of the character of ragtime surface in those genres. The classical composers Charles Ives, Igor Stravinsky, and Darius Milhaud were all intrigued by the opportunities that ragtime offered to express new musical ideas. Joplin himself wrote ragtime operas. As performers began to rag both melody and accompaniment, ragtime began its transformation into jazz. As classic ragtime was meant to be played as written, these artists also moved toward greater improvisation. Jelly Roll Morton recognized the coherence of ragtime but gave it more freedom, especially in the bass line. This resulted in what is known as ``stomp'' piano. Charles "Cow-Cow" Davenport, who pioneered the Boogie-Woogie style, was trained in ragtime but recorded many blues pieces. James P. Johnson was instrumental in moving ragtime toward jazz and blues, creating Stride Piano. Other developments led to the ``trumpet-piano'' style of Earl Hines and Teddy Weatherford and to the swing style of Duke Ellington. Some Historians consider ragtime to be the very first jazz style. Although it cannot actually be classified as jazz, ragtime is definitely a very influential part of jazz. In Louisiana at this time there was music everywhere.

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