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Tom Turpin St. Louis you build on three themes as usual and his rather complex theme be as brief or more understated and has played twice up to this point all the melody has been carried by the treble the bass simply beating out chords theme scene changes this being played as a theme by both hands and constituting a sort of climatic contrast to the first two. I am.
I am. They also mention that as Barclay Sims and his Bornemann among other
important ragtime composer and pianist do a show event who was purported to have been the greatest natural pianist of all of them Chauvin nicknamed onomatopoetic Lee Siobhan was an improviser and piano virtuoso ranking above the preceding Mr. Tripp. But since he could not read or write music many of his original tunes and syncopations were transcribed by Tom Turpin and later by Scott Joplin. Sometimes without particular credit in Turpin's case they theorized this was less plagiarism than a conviction apparently shared by Chauvin himself. Ragtime was a pool of so many men's ideas that proprietary rights were a little out of place and that the credit should belong to the man who had enough knowledge to write down what was everyone's common musical property. I imagine W.C. Handy felt somewhat that way when he wrote down. Some of the folk blues slightly adapt to them and then claimed himself as a composer. In this sense the whole copyright situation
has indicated on the covers of the ragtime sheet music is somewhat confused and more than a little misleading if taken literally as an indication of the composer in the academic sense of the term. Scott Joplin's case in this connection that claim is perhaps the most difficult to analyze Joplin as the most famous name in ragtime. It is almost impossible at this date to decide with any degree of confidence which of the many pieces that bear Scott's name as a ranger or a composer or actually composed by him and how many were mere transcriptions of rags originally improvised by such men to show that. Otis Saunders Scott Hayden and Hotham Marshall. I would say however there seems to be sufficient evidence. That would indicate that Joplin was a gifted ragtime composer of considerable originality so that I probably a significant proportion of the songs ascribed to him were really his. Here is Maple Leaf Rag. Probably the most famous of all rank time tunes. And I also like to note here that classic
ragtime was rarely intended to be played at a very fast very breakneck temple. It was played generally at a relatively moderate temple and even somewhat slower I would think from this. And it was only later in New Orleans in the stomps in which which were jazz adaptations of ragtime that the temple is increased often and as a matter of fact the whole structure and content of the rag was made more fluid. This is Maple Leaf Rag recorded from a nineteen seven player piano roll and performed by the composer Scott Joplin's. Those of you who are pianos and would like some idea of the really quite considerable
difficulty of ragtime when notated might find it interesting to glance through some of the ragtime folios most of which are now available in various reissue form ragtime Bornemann and Sims continue came to an end in the second decade of the 20th century for a number of social economic and technical technical logical reasons which we shall analyze. Let me mention here they say that the clean up campaigns in St. Louis Kansas City New Orleans and Chicago played no small part in the eradication of ragtime in 1910 for example the police close nearly all the night spots featuring ragtime and Chicago and the members of the Chicago School of ragtime were forced to migrate or switched to other channels of expression and the way at least in Chicago was clear for jazz and the blues. In the words of Elena L. Spencer with the decline of the Peking Theater in Chicago which had been a sort of a ragtime Citadel Raney the woman who discovered Bessie Smith by the way my Rainey popularized the blues and Wilbur Swetnam featured jazz at the opening of the Grand
Theater and clearcut ragtime was passe. But before that happened as we show here ragtime had fused with the Blues particularly in New Orleans and had helped jazz come into being. Even after 1910 many ragtime trends survived in a hybrid form and mingled with many of the new jazz forms it was 19 20 before it completely or almost completely faded from sight. Within the past few years it has been subject to a revival of sorts but no longer does it have any direct influence on the evolution of jazz. There are however several excellent young pianists who play the old ragtime style very well and like Ralph Sutton Don you will Wally rose in Dick wells doing. Let's go back now to the early days of minstrel Sezen seem more thoroughly than we did before. All right time change that form of art and how it in turn was affected by syncopated brass band music. As we've seen one of the ways in which ragtime came into being was through the banjo accompanied plantation Jags the later shoo fly dances in the cake walk
until it became a piano style. In the course of its own evolution it influenced minstrelsy and was one of the major factors that changed minstrelsy as was mentioned earlier from an imitation of the Negro to an art in which the Negro himself. Took an increasingly more important part. Ragtime then serves as a linking for us in one sense it links the pre-Civil War a cake walk with later dance forms unto the 1910s and for that matter until today ragtime also links the minstrel shows of the 19th century on its own rather formalized structure to the Afro American blues and other forms that would have produced jazz. The invasion of ragtime into the minstrel idiom rights Bornemann was a general infiltration rather than a frontal attack minstrelsy had begun in a sense as the negro musicians attempt to live up to white man's idea of a negro musician. It continued into popularity and this is monstrously proper as a white man's attempt to imitate the negroes imitation of the white man. It ended with a negro finding and asserting his own idiom
and with the white man at first vainly trying to imitate an idiom that was rapidly reducing the gap between folk and music. You might not want me to repeat that fact I think I do. Minstrel city began in a sense and this is in terms of the early external behavior of Negro musicians who felt that they had to play a part into it. To an extent did a part of the of the happy contented and primitive which they were not so that one writes in a sense began as the negro musicians attempt to live up to the white man's idea of a negro musician. It continued and this is when minstrelsy proper began with another it's continued into popularity as a white man's attempt to imitate the negroes imitation of the white man. It ended and this was after 1880 with a negro finding and asserting his own idiom and with a white man at first vainly trying to imitate an idiom that was rapidly reducing the gap between folk and art music. The actual junction took place a
few years later when ragtime fused with the blues to produce jazz on the one side from the party piano style on the other. In the early years of minstrelsy very little difference between the songs of white and colored minstrels was noticeable. James bland songs like Steven Foster's and Dan Emmett showed hardly any use of Negro folk themes. Sidney Perrin songs resemble the Blands when they made their first appearance on the minstrel stage. His mammy's little pumpkin colored Coons for example showed no syncopation when it first appeared in 1907 but within one year it reappeared as part of Ragtown rags a medley of coon song hits as they were called then and this time the tune had been supplied with a proper offbeat accent trouble. Coon songs therefore marked the transition from minstrelsy to ragtime. Previously as was noted the syncopation occurred in the performance not in the performance when Negroes perform ragtime rather than in the songs written for the performances by the turn of the century it had become impossible to define the difference between syncopated coon songs like
Walker and Williams. I don't like no cheap man and vocal ragtime like Scott Joplin's ragtime Dan Sun banjo rag accompaniments began to be played for all the old cakewalks into steps all the traditional minstrel shows standbys like all black Joe and zip coon or Turkey in the straw and Old Dan Tucker made their first reappearance as ragtime tunes until gradually ragtime was to be found in the accompaniment as well as the melody. And before the audiences could make out what was happening to them ragtime of course the old burnt cork imitations off the minstrel stage. Here Boardman and Sam's add an element to the genesis of ragtime that I did not cover before and relating ragtime to the cake walk and other dances they write. Negro ragtime had been preparing for this invasion of popular music ever since the brass bands tendency to shift the accents of the traditional march tunes from the strong to the weak beats. And they had tried to produce similar effects on the piano keyboard. These negro brass
bands were prevalent in the south probably beginning around the 1880s. Here's how March generally sounds with the accent on the strong first and third beats. But the negro brass bands of the 18 80s and 90s would shift those accents to the formerly beats. And you had this kind of a thing.
I should point out that in all musicological fairness that in the early days of the negro brass bands you didn't find syncopation although in the sense that you hear it in the background here. But since there are no records of the 1880s this was the closest I could get a New Orleans March. To indicate the contrast again and to indicate also that there was certainly
by contrast with this syncopation. I will go into this march music in considerable detail in the discussion of New Orleans music an interesting footnote to ragtime is that incidentally actually isn't a footnote it's part of the historical context
is that in Sedalia Missouri in the nineties where ragtime began to flourish there was a Negro brass band organized in 1890 one of 12 pieces that call themselves the Queen City negro band in 1894 to 95. The man playing Frisbee flat cornet in the band was later the foremost ragtime composer Scott Joplin's. According to Esperance and Campbell he later formed a band from within that band and it played instrumental rags. In other words converting the instrumental ragtime piano style to a band style which later happened in New Orleans as well. Joplin was to write his first drag in 1970. Apparently the first time the word rag itself ever appeared on the cover of sheet music was in 1903 on the cover of a song composed by negro musician of Detroit Fred Stone who named his song my ragtime baby with Kay Thompson as you remember found a published rag as early as 1984. This influence of the negro brass bands on the
development of ragtime piano shows that it is no accident that the first rag sounded like offbeat marches and that the music hall type of thematic material made its appearance in ragtime only after the original march tempo rags firmly laid down the pattern of right hand syncopations and poly rhythmic variations. The latter are called secondary rag which I'll attempt to describe in a moment common to both stages of ragtime development however States Bornemann and characteristic of their immaturity and the growth of Afro American music and the rather separate strain they indicate was the fact that no traditional negro themes of the spiritual work songs or blues type were ever incorporated into the repertoire of the early ragman ragtime contributed more of form than of content to jazz. I'm like Work Song spirituals and blues ragtime generally used to have more themes in cyclical or Rondo form a tradition borrowed from the march and Old Europe the endurance traditions and preserved for example in the cake walk where it survives in such perennials as the Georgia cake
walk. The formal structure of ragtime was based on a combination of three or four strains 16 bars each in length which were generally linked by similarity or contrast as Kate Thompson indicated the use of several strains had ample formal precedent in a number of the eighteenth and nineteenth century dance forms like the quad reel which frequently used as many as five and actual ragtime performance however there was no need of playing all four strains if there were four. As written or even in the order in which they appeared on the music sheets and steady each of the strains could be repeated ad lib any number of times as a jazz band may repeat the chorus and dispense with the verse and as the jazz band invariably ends up with a chorus or used to rather than with a verse. So it was traditional usage in ragtime to end the piece not with the fourth but with the first rain. Of course there were all kinds of variations depending on the individual ragtime pianist for bar introduction too was common usage in ragtime as well as later jazz. But whereas jazz frequently ends with a coda ragtime almost always ends as you've heard with an abruptly clipped off a chord a practice
preserving the general effect of brusqueness and angularity which ragtime affected so consistently. The fact is that the central theme of the rag introduced with the change of key was generally referred to as the trio indicates further the derivation from the march. But the fact that the trio frequently introduced diminished chords in addition to the tonic dominant structure of the simple Maj already shows the way to an emancipation from the harmonic structure of the march and the first approach to the minor thirds and diminished sevenths of the negro blues scale. Here is an example of one classic ragtime form a recording taken from an old piano roar of James Scott's grace and beauty played by the composer Martin Williams analyzes the structure that's grace and beauty opens with a song for a theme a repeated contrasting the simpler theme be repeated or returned a way then the trio theme C is played after a key modulation then repeated
and then D which is usually a riff like outgrowth of C rounds out the composition. Grace and beauty. I am I am I am I am I am. I AM I AM
I AM I AM I AM I AM. I am. I am I am. Then Bormann and Simmons continue as were the harmonic structure of ragtime the fact that it was only me
getting to use the harmonic elements of the blues. So whether it's rhythmic development the triplet and the secret in part of jazz syncopation had not yet been discovered by the ragtime as or if they knew about it. And there's a good chance they might have heard it in blues spirituals and work songs alike. I took good care not to confuse their audiences white audiences and publishers by including it into the narrow scope of piano ragtime Instead after a quarter note had become the bar the second note would frequently be a half note. That's automatically preventing the third beat from being accented or the fourth beat of one bar might be tied to the first beat of the next. With the result but no emphasis could fall on the latter whose principle was varied in many ways and was of course not confined a quarter and half notes or in fact a floor for a time. But whether written out into four or four for a time the trick remained the same against the regularly and properly accented bass the treble stated violin counter accents and this not only by means of simple dynamics but by ingenious harmonic and melodic
devices which changed and twisted the expected accents of the tune in every possible way. For example listen to Ralph Sutton's playing of the chromatic Ray. Stop chorus breaks anticipated chords contrasts between single notes
on the chord of notes on the off beat advanced or retarded use of melodic or harmonic fragments. These were common devices but most interesting in from the point of view of jazz the most important development was the use of rhythm or what the ragman themselves called secondary and that were discussed next week along with a discussion of the further history of ragtime and the beginning of jazz in New Orleans. You have been listening to the evolution of jazz recorded series prepared and produced by Nat Hentoff under the auspices of Northeastern University and presented by the Lao Institute cooperative broadcasting Council. The evolution of jazz was recorded in the Boston studios of WGBH AF am. This is the national educational radio network.
The Evolution of Jazz
Episode Number
Ragtime, Part Two
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WGBH Educational Foundation
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University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Episode Description
This program, the second of two, explores the origins and form of ragtime.
Series Description
Jazz historian Nat Hentoff presents a series that traces the history of jazz, from its musical and cultural roots to its contemporary forms. "The Evolution of Jazz" was originally broadcast from WGBH in 1953-1954, and was re-broadcast by the National Educational Radio Network in 1964.
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African Americans--Music--20th century--History and criticism.
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Host: Hentoff, Nat
Producer: Hentoff, Nat
Producing Organization: WGBH Educational Foundation
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University of Maryland
Identifier: 55-32-8 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:28:44
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Chicago: “The Evolution of Jazz; 8; Ragtime, Part Two,” 1954-01-01, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed April 21, 2024,
MLA: “The Evolution of Jazz; 8; Ragtime, Part Two.” 1954-01-01. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. April 21, 2024. <>.
APA: The Evolution of Jazz; 8; Ragtime, Part Two. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from