History of Jazz


(1880s-early 1900s)
Next: The Blues

Ragtime was one of the early musical styles that contributed to the development of jazz. Originating in the southern United States during the late 1800's, ragtime was composed primarily for the piano. It combined a sixteenth-note-based syncopated melody with the form and feel of a march. On the piano this was achieved by the pianist's left hand playing a steady "boom-chic" bass and chord pattern and the right hand playing the syncopated tune. Playing in this syncopated style was called "ragging," which is probably the origin of the term "ragtime."

Important musicians of the time included pianists Scott Joplin, Artie Matthews, James Scott, and Tom Turpin.

Did you know?

  • Before the radio was commonly available, player pianos provided a popular way to hear the newest ragtime tune.

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