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What is ragtime?

At the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries, music genres derived from the traditions of Africans who had come to the continent as slaves, now influenced by white musical traditions, began to spread in the United States.

The first to gain notoriety is ragtime or broken rhythm. It is one of the first truly American musical forms and one of the influences in the development of jazz. Its main composer was Scott Joplin.

Marvin Hamlisch and his Orchestra - The Entertainer (1973)

Adaptation for the soundtrack of the film The Strike of one of the most universal ragtime songs, composed by Scott Joplin in 1902.


Ragtime originated when the marches popularized by white bands and European classical music were adapted to the syncopated rhythms of African music. The first printed ragtime dates from 1897 and the first black composer to publish it was Tom Turpin with Harlem Rag, in 1897. It was based in the city of Sedalia (Missouri) and, although it was a genre used as orchestral music, it enjoyed great popularity thanks to the pianolas that played piano performances.

What comes after ragtime?

The 1920s marked the end of the ragtime era, which opened the door to other styles of black music such as urban blues, derived from the primitive blues that were sung in the rural environment.

But the musical genre that burst in with the most force, taking over from ragtime, was the initial form of jazz known as the New Orleans style, developed in that city by the cornet player Buddy Bolden at the end of the 19th century.

George Lewis - Burgundy Street Blues (1944)

Theme composed and performed by clarinetist George Lewis, one of the best exponents of the New Orleans style.

The birth of jazz is located in Storyville, a district of the city of New Orleans located next to the French Quarter. In its origin it combined band and parade music with strong doses of improvisation and with particular rhythmic and stylistic characteristics. Between the twenties and forties, it became a music of great consumption, mainly in America. Later on, more complex sub-genres started to emerge, becoming a ‘music for musicians’ and for enthusiasts.

What is dixieland?

At the beginning of the 20th century, the poor whites and creoles of the Mississippi Delta began to take an interest in jazz and its influence produced some variations in the playing of the New Orleans bands.

Improvisations were further developed, tempos were speeded up and less African rhythmic structures were sought. In addition, the piano and saxophone are introduced, and new instrumental techniques are developed.

Jelly Roll Morton's Red Hot Peppers - Black Bottom Stomp (1926)

A song composed by Jelly Roll Morton, a New Orleans native who introduced himself as the inventor of jazz.


Dixieland is at the base of jazz that has been played in the following decades and corresponds to the sound that, today, anyone associates with the jazz of New Orleans. It is usually played in the street, and was even used for parades. In its early days, the Papa Jack Laine horn stood out, as well as bands like trumpeter Nick La Rocca's Original Dixieland Jass Band, drummer Anton Lada's Louisiana Five and trumpeter Paul Mares' New Orleans Rhythm Kings.