Ragtime

Ragtime Band

While the Delta Blues and Country Blues where important to the melodic development of jazz and introduced the “blue” notes discussed earlier, ragtime music is probably the most significant influence on the Dixieland jazz band tradition in New Orleans. Ragtime and early jazz have so much in common, that it is difficult to differentiate between the two. Ragtime is often defined in terms of its compositional style, and the fact that it is usually a work for piano, while early jazz is associated with instrumental ensembles playing in an improvisatory ragtime-like manner. Ragtime rhythmic structure can be defined by its use of a syncopated melodic line with a bass line that emphasizes octave bass notes on beats one and three, and upper chord tones in a higher register on beats two and four of a four beat measure. This use of rhythmic structure led to phrases such as “ragged” or “ragged time” which may have developed into the term used today, “ragtime.” The ragtime feel, popularized by Scott Joplin in Springfield, Missouri, employed the use of emphasized syncopated rhythms on traditionally metrically weak beats, a style that can be traced to an African origin.

It was the combination of ragtime music with the musical ensembles of New Orleans, the brass bands and military style bands that led to the creation of Dixieland style jazz and the introduction of the trombone into the musical genre.