Popular Music of the Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Centuries The Ragtime Craze: 1896–1918 Ragtime Music Emerged in the 1880s Its popularity peaked in the decade after the turn of the century. Ragtime initially was a piano music but gradually came to identify any syncopated music. The term “ragtime” was used to describe any music that contained syncopation. Ragtime Music The word derives from the African American term “to rag,” meaning to enliven a piece of music by shifting melodic accents onto the offbeats (a technique known as syncopation). It began as an obscure folk-dance music played up and down the Mississippi valley during last quarter of the nineteenth century. Ragtime energized popular music in America by adding rhythmic vitality (syncopation) to the music. The Banjo A stringed instrument developed by slave musicians from African prototypes during the early colonial period. The basic patterns of ragtime music were transferred from the banjo. Ragtime Also influenced by Latin American rhythms such as the Cuban habanera Marching band music contributed the regular “oom-pah” bass common in ragtime pieces. Ragtime Songs Coon song – Popular among white audiences from the 1890s until World War I – Usually accompanied by a simplified version of the syncopated rhythms of ragtime piano music “All Coons Look Alike to Me” The first piece of sheet music to bear the term “rag” Composed by the African American songwriter Ernest Hogan Published (complete with racist caricatures on the cover) in 1896 March Songs Ragtime-influenced songs that were less derogatory in content than coon songs Owed less to the style developed by Joplin and other black pianists George M. Cohan (1878–1942), author of “You’re a Grand Old Flag” (1907) Ragtime Songs The growing market for ragtime songs at the turn of the century suggests a continuation of the white fascination with African American music first evinced in minstrelsy. Most popular ragtime songs were vigorous march-style songs with a few “irregular” rhythms added for effect. Scott Joplin (1868–1917) The most famous ragtime composer of the era Best known for his piano rags Born in Texas Began to play piano around the town of Texarkana during his teens and received instruction in classical music theory from a German teacher His first regular job as a pianist was in a cafe in St. Louis. Scott Joplin (1868–1917) Developed a “ragging” piano style, improvising around the themes of popular songs and marches in a syncopated style Between 1895 and 1915, Joplin composed many of the classics of the ragtime repertoire Helped popularize the style through his piano arrangements, published as sheet music Scott Joplin (1868–1917) Joplin’s rags were also widely heard on player pianos. Player pianos were elaborate mechanical devices activated by piano rolls—spools of paper with punched holes that controlled the movement of the piano’s keys. “Maple Leaf Rag” (1898) Scott Joplin’s first successful piece Named after the Maple Leaf social club in Sedalia, where he often played The piece was published in 1899 and became a huge hit, spreading Joplin’s fame to Europe and beyond. “Maple Leaf” started a nationwide craze for syncopated music. Listening: “Maple Leaf Rag” The form and style are typical of “classic” ragtime. “Maple Leaf” consists of a succession of four distinct themes: – AABBACCDD – This type of form is common in marches. Right hand (melody) plays syncopated (“offbeat” or “staggered”) rhythms and riff-based melodies, usually built on three-note patterns. Left hand (accompaniment) plays regular bass part; march-like, two-beat patterns. The rhythmic interest comes from the interplay of the two hands. Ferdinand “Jelly Roll” Morton New Orleans jazz pianist Took Joplin’s composition and treated it as the basis for extended, rhythmically complex improvisations Ferdinand “Jelly Roll” Morton’s version of “Maple Leaf Rag” can be heard in The Smithsonian Collection of Classic Jazz The Rise of the Phonograph Invented in 1877 by Thomas Alva Edison and, at around the same time, by a French inventor named Charles Cros The energy from sound waves was transferred to a foil or wax cylinder, which could then be used to reproduce the original sounds. Phonograph Discs Two companies dominated the American market in phonograph discs at the turn of the century: – Columbia Records (formed in 1887) – Victor Talking Machine Company (1901) Phonograph Discs 1890s: The first nickelodeons—machines that played music hits for a nickel—were set up in public places. 1902: Enrico Caruso recorded a series of Opera arias in London. Victor sold over two million dollars’ worth of discs after his death in 1921. 1902: Twelve-inch shellac discs were introduced. Radio 1920: The first three commercial radio stations in the U.S. were established (KDKA in Pittsburgh, WWJ in Detroit, and WJZ in Newark). 1926: The first nationwide commercial radio network was established (National Broadcasting Company [NBC]). 1927: There were over 1,000 radio stations in the United States.