RagtimeThis is an article about Ragtime music . For other uses of the word "Ragtime" see: Ragtime (disambiguation)
Ragtime is an American musical genre, enjoying its peak popularity around the years 1900-1915. Ragtime was preceded by its close relative the Cakewalk, but the emergence of mature ragtime is usually dated to 1897, the year in which several important early rags were published. In 1899 Scott Joplin's Maple Leaf Rag was published, which became a great hit and demonstrated more depth and sophistication than earlier ragtime. Ragtime is usually seen as one of the main precursors of jazz (along with the blues). Jazz largely surpassed ragtime in mainstream popularity in the early 1920s, although ragtime compositions continue to be written up to the present, and periodic revivals of popular interest in ragtime occurred in the 1950s and the 1970s.
Perhaps the principal characteristic of ragtime music is syncopation, with the melodic notes landing largely on the off-beats. On the piano the melody is usually played by the right hand, with shorter time values set against a steady quarter note bassline played by the left hand. It is this "Ragged time" that gives the genre its name.
Arguably the most sophisticated and famous, though by no means the only, ragtime composer was Scott Joplin. Joseph Lamb and James Scott are, together with Joplin, acknowledged as the three most sophisticated ragtime composers. Some rank Artie Matthews as belonging with this distinguished company. Other notable ragtime composers included May Aufderheide, Zez Confrey, Ben Harney, Charles L. Johnson, Lucky Roberts, Paul Sarebresole, Wilber Sweatman, and Tom Turpin. Modern ragtime composers include William Bolcom, David Thomas Roberts, and Trebor Tichenor.
See also: List of ragtime musicians