Ragtime

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Ragtime (alternately spelled rag-time)[1] is an original musical genre which enjoyed its peak popularity between 1897 and 1918.[2] Its main characteristic trait is its syncopated, or "ragged," rhythm.[2] It began as dance music in the red-light districts of American cities such as St. Louis and New Orleans years before being published as popular sheet music for piano.[3][4] It was a modification of the march made popular by John Philip Sousa, with additional polyrhythms coming from African music.[5] The ragtime composer Scott Joplin became famous through the publication in 1899 of the "Maple Leaf Rag" and a string of ragtime hits that followed, although he was later forgotten by all but a small, dedicated community of ragtime aficionados until the major ragtime revival in the early 1970s.[6][7] For at least 12 years after its publication, the "Maple Leaf Rag" heavily influenced subsequent ragtime composers with its melody lines, harmonic progressions or metric patterns.[8]

Ragtime fell out of favor as jazz claimed the public's imagination after 1917, but there have been numerous revivals since as the music has been re-discovered. First in the early 1940s many jazz bands began to include ragtime in their repertoire and put out ragtime recordings on 78 RPM records. A more significant revival occurred in the 1950s as a wider variety of ragtime styles of the past were made available on records, and new rags were composed, published, and recorded. In 1971 Joshua Rifkin brought out a compilation of Scott Joplin's work which was nominated for a Grammy Award,[9] and in 1973, the motion picture The Sting brought ragtime to a wide audience with its soundtrack of Joplin tunes. Subsequently the film's rendering of Joplin's 1902 rag "The Entertainer" was a top 40 hit in 1974.

Ragtime (with Joplin's work in the forefront) has been cited as an American equivalent of minuets by Mozart, mazurkas by Chopin, or Waltzes by Brahms.[10] Ragtime influenced Classical composers including Claude Debussy and Igor Stravinsky.[11]

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