Can you sense it? Visualize fingers dancing across the black and ivory keys with such a rhythmic beat your whole body feels energized!
How many of you are familiar with Alexander's Ragtime Band? Now, that is a classic! It was the first major hit of Irving Berlin, in 1911. Even though it is inconclusive, there is evidence the song was borrowed from a melody by Scott Joplin. What a way to begin a new decade!
Did you know Irving Berlin was musically illiterate and only played piano on the black keys?
The rhythms and pitches of ragtime, the first completely American musical genre, continues to enjoy its peak popularity well into 1917. The songs of the slaves from the mid-19th century that became the basis for such music presents no surprise for African-Americans gaining a stronghold in the soul of music—ragtime and soon to evolve, jazz.
This brings an important question to the forefront: What is the difference in ragtime and jazz? Having taken a look at ragtime and listened to some of its offbeat music, let's turn to jazz.
This new style of music was budding in the vibrant city of New Orleans, LA in which ragtime was based. Louis Armstrong, nicknamed "Satchmo or Pops", gave rise to a talent that would change the course of music. The African-American communities of the Southern United States are attributed to originating the jazz music genre. Jazz is not easy to define spanning a range of music from ragtime to present day.
In jazz, the skilled performer will interpret a tune in very individual ways, never playing the same composition exactly the same way twice. Depending upon the performer's mood and personal experience, interactions with other musicians, or even members of the audience, a jazz musician may alter melodies, harmonies or time signature at will.[Source: en.wikipedia.org]The standard history of jazz establishes the first Jazz early recording being made by the Original Dixieland Jass Band. The record was produced for the Victor label in New York City on February 26, 1917 and released in May of that same year. Its success was the spark that ignited the Jazz fad seizing the world in the years during and after World War I.
Tiger Rag was recorded and copyrighted by the Original Dixieland Jass Band in 1917. It has become a popular Jazz standard.
There is so much history behind music it is virtually impossible to touch on every genre, each different style and all the changes that evolved from 1910 to 1919. You have, however, been exposed to ragtime and jazz, each of which played an intricate role in the evolution of music. Have you been able to pinpoint the differences in the two musical genres? Take a guess, maybe several guesses, then check out these links...
Characteristics of Ragtime
Early Jazz (Dixieland)
Time to leave for now but not without a quick mention of the blues, which will be touched upon in detail later on. Little is known as to the exact origin of the music we know as the blues. There is one thing to know for sure: Along with the blues comes Wine Whiskey and Women!
And the music goes on beating to the rhythm of the changing times. . .