Ragtime Jazz

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Jazz

00:00 The Entertainer03:47 Maple Leaf Rag06:37 Elite Syncopations09:33 The Ragtime Dance12:20 The Easy Winners15:07 Weeping Willow18:22 The Cas. Ragtime represents musics from both Europe and Africa. The piano is a European instrument. The left hand (steady march-like rhythm) was derived from European classical music and marches. The chord progressions were rooted in European classical music. Ragtime uses standard European notation (all the music was written). In the summer of 1961, 'Ragtime Bob' Darch performed in 'The Dugout' lounge at Mickey Mantle's Holiday Inn, Joplin Missouri. 'Ragtime Bob' asked Trebor to play one night at Mickey Mantle's so 'Bob' could cover another commitment. Trebor invited Al. Then Al invited Don. 'Bob' approved, but said that. Librarian Office Hours. Students, faculty, and staff: Meet with a librarian via Zoom to get help with all things research! Available by appointment M-F. Ragtime jazz music and Dixieland jazz, mostly from New Orleans, the capital of all dixieland music from the USA.

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Social Dances of the Ragtime Era

Music: During the 19th century, most of America's music, dances and fashions were imported from Europe, as composers and dance masters emulated the latest styles from Paris and London. At the same time, African Americans were combining their native music with European forms, resulting in their spirituals and 'Ethiopian Melodies' that were adopted by minstrel shows and American composers like Foster, Christy and Gottschalk. During the 1890s and early 1900s this unique African American music developed into a new sound – syncopated Ragtime music.
Dance: At the end of the 19th century, many Americans were becoming bored with the old music and dances, which were essentially those of their grandparents. The Twentieth Century was seen as a time to make great changes, so most people were ready for innovations, probably with the expectation that the changes would come from society's cultural leaders. But instead, many Americans began to find it 'modern' to dance their Two-Step to the new Ragtime music from the rural South and Midwest. Some high society ballrooms embraced the African American Cake Walk as 'the popular fad of popular society.' In the early 1900s, Ragtime music gained a wider acceptance and was soon accompanying the new Four-Step (soon to be re-named the One-Step) and a spontaneous menagerie of 'animal dances' such as the Grizzly Bear, Turkey Trot, Bunny Hug and Camel Walk, especially among the lower classes. By 1910, the popular phrase was, 'Everybody's Doin' It Now,' but in fact most of middle and upper class society was only talking about it. Many could not yet accept the new ragtime dances because of lower-class associations.


In 1911 the newlyweds Irene and Vernon Castle found themselves in the right place at the right time, exhibiting their versions of the new American dances in a Parisian dinner club. They became immensely popular in Paris, and their fame spread through Europe. When the Castles returned to Irene's New York home in 1912, their dancing set a new prototype for Americans to follow. The Castles were a young, elegant, attractive, wholesome, married couple who had become the rage of Parisian high society. In a word, they had class. If they could dance the new ragtime dances with propriety, then all levels of society could, and did. The Castles were joined by other exemplars, such as Joan Sawyer, Maurice Mouvet and Florence Walton, all becoming catalysts in an explosive new dance mania. And after two centuries of Americans dancing in the European manner, Europe was now importing the latest music and dances from America.


During the ragtime dance craze, the ballrooms were dominated by the One-Step, a dance where a couple merely walked one step to each beat of the music. Its immense popularity was due primarily to its simplicity, so that even novices could be modern. Those who were especially fond of the new dancing had a wide variety of other steps and styles to choose from. The Argentine Tango, which had been received with great acclaim in Paris, was renowned for its flirtations with sensuality, previously forbidden in public dancing. In contrast, the Hesitation Waltz was characterized by an elegant, almost balletic grace. The Maxixe was a swaying Brazilian two-step (polka) that was thought of as a Brazilian Tango. Vernon and Irene danced the One-Step in a unique style that became known as the Castle Walk. The Half-and Half was an unusual hesitation waltz in 5/4 time, accompanied by even more obscure experiments in 7/4 time. Lastly, the Fox-Trot, which combined slow and quick steps in a wide variety of patterns, was introduced in the last months before 'The Great War.'
See this page on Ragtime Era Dance Fashions.


World War I brought an end to the ragtime era dance craze in 1914-15. Dance floors thinned as men in Europe and then America left for war. Vernon Castle joined the Royal Flying Corps. (Click here for a page on Vernon Castle's exploits in aerial combat.) But for a brief four years, the 'modern dancing' craze redefined social dancing for the new 20th century, while also changing prototypes for personal relationships, both on and off the dance floor.
— Richard Powers

On to the Jazz Age

Researchers and historians are still learning about jazz history; there are many and various opinions about what is important in the history of jazz. What follows is an overview of jazz history that provides a foundation for this study.

The Origins of Jazz - Pre 1895

A review of New Orleans' unique history and culture, with its distinctive character rooted in the colonial period, is helpful in understanding the complex circumstances that led to the development of New Orleans jazz. The city was founded in 1718 as part of the French Louisiana colony. The Louisiana territories were ceded to Spain in 1763 but were returned to France in 1803. France almost immediately sold the colony to the United States in the Louisiana Purchase.

New Orleans differed greatly from the rest of the young United States in its Old World cultural relationships. The Creole culture was Catholic and French-speaking rather than Protestant and English-speaking. A more liberal outlook on life prevailed, with an appreciation of good food, wine, music, and dancing. Festivals were frequent, and Governor William Claiborne, the first American-appointed governor of the territory of Louisiana, reportedly commented that New Orleanians were ungovernable because of their preoccupation with dancing.

The colony's culture was enriched not only from Europe but from Africa as well. As early as 1721 enslaved West Africans totaled 30% of the population of New Orleans, and by the end of the 1700s people of varied African descent, both free and slave, made up more than half the city's population. Many arrived via the Caribbean and brought with them West Indian cultural traditions.

Ragtime Jazz Piano

After the Louisiana Purchase, English-speaking Anglo- and African-Americans flooded into New Orleans. Partially because of the cultural friction, these newcomers began settling upriver from Canal Street and from the already full French Quarter (Vieux Carre). These settlements extended the city boundaries and created the 'uptown' American sector as a district apart from the older Creole 'downtown.' The influx of black Americans, first as slaves and later as free people, into uptown neighborhoods brought the elements of the blues, spirituals, and rural dances to New Orleans' music.

Ethnic diversity increased further during the 19th century. Many German and Irish immigrants came before the Civil War, and the number of Italian immigrants increased afterward. The concentration of new European immigrants in New Orleans was unique in the South.

This rich mix of cultures in New Orleans resulted in considerable cultural exchange. An early example was the city's relatively large and free 'Creole of color' community. Creoles of color were people of mixed African and European blood and were often well educated craft and trades people. Creole of color musicians were particularly known for their skill and discipline. Many were educated in France and played in the best orchestras in the city.

In the city, people of different cultures and races often lived close together (in spite of conventional prejudices), which facilitated cultural interaction. For instance, wealthier families occupied the new spacious avenues and boulevards uptown, such as St. Charles and Napoleon avenues, while poorer families of all races who served those who were better off often lived on the smaller streets in the centers of the larger blocks. New Orleans did not have mono cultural ghettos like many other cities.

Ragtime Jazz Sidney Bechet

New Orleans' unusual history, its unique outlook on life, its rich ethnic and cultural makeup, and the resulting cultural interaction set the stage for development and evolution of many distinctive traditions. The city is famous for its festivals, foods, and, especially, its music. Each ethnic group in New Orleans contributed to the very active musical environment in the city, and in this way to the development of early jazz.

Ragtime Jazz Characteristics

A well-known example of early ethnic influences significant to the origins of jazz is the African dance and drumming tradition, which was documented in New Orleans. By the mid-18th century, slaves gathered socially on Sundays at a special market outside the city's rampart. Later, the area became known as Congo Square, famous for its African dances and the preservation of African musical and cultural elements.

Although dance in Congo Square ended before the Civil War, a related musical tradition surfaced in the African-American neighborhoods at least by the 1880s. The Mardi Gras Indians were black 'gangs' whose members 'masked' as American Indians on Mardi Gras day to honor them. Black Mardi Gras Indians felt a spiritual affinity with Native American Indians. On Mardi Gras day gang members roamed their neighborhoods looking to confront other gangs in a show of strength that sometimes turned violent. The demonstration included drumming and call-and-response chanting that was strongly reminiscent of West African and Caribbean music. Mardi Gras Indian music was part of the environment of early jazz. Several early jazz figures such as Louis Armstrong and Lee Collins described being affected by Mardi Gras Indian processions as youngsters, and Jelly Roll Morton claimed to have been a 'spyboy,' or scout, for an Indian gang as a teenager.

Ragtime Jazz Audio For Kids

New Orleans music was also impacted by the popular musical forms that proliferated throughout the United States following the Civil War. Brass marching bands were the rage in the late 1880s, and brass bands cropped up across America. There was also a growing national interest in syncopated musical styles influenced by African-American traditions, such as cakewalks and minstrel tunes. By the 1890s syncopated piano compositions called ragtime created a popular music sensation, and brass bands began supplementing the standard march repertoire with ragtime pieces.