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Ragtime For Rock Essay

1170 words - 5 pages

Ragtime for Rock

Throughout its history, Rock and Roll has been influenced and molded by many different artists and genres. A more prominent catalyst for the evolution of rock would be Ragtime. One of the earliest forms of jazz, ragtime was characterized by its syncopated and “ragged” rhythms, and blazed the path for almost every modern day music genre. Ragtime was a variation of the then popular type of music, march. Even before the 1900’s, this was a popular dance music of red-light districts in African American communities of places such as St. Louis and New Orleans (Rock and Roll). Rhythmically broken up melodies made the sounds lively and springy, and therefore ideal for dancing. ...view middle of the document...

You can tell that the composition was structured with much more detail than that of previous rags at that time, and Joplin’s use of syncopation, especially in between the first and second sections, was extremely innovative at that point in history. Not many artists even fathomed playing melodies that didn’t sync with the song’s beat, but Joplin did it to perfection. Syncopation like this has been portrayed by many artists since the times of rag. “Maple Leaf Rag,” is often categorized with the tag “archetypal,” because of its influence on the the type of music being composed (Berlin). Its structure would later on be the basis for many other great works in the rag genre. Components of the “Maple Leaf Rag” were used by many of the jazz groups in later decades, and is well known for being the most influential rag record of all time.
Another piece that personifies the innovative styles of ragtime would be a different Scott Joplin hit, “Weeping Willow.” It is sub-titled "a ragtime two step", which was a form of dance popular until about 1911, and a common style among rags written at the time. Just like many of his other rag songs, “Weeping Willow” is written in an “AA BB A CC DD” structure. But, unlike “Maple Leaf Rag,” the song has a much slower tempo. This piano tune is played mostly in the key of G major very lofty and highly melodic. The "B" section creates interesting melodic shifts, by making good use of alternating patterns. The “C” section is in the key of C major; its chord progression was popular in African American folk songs. Where as the “D” section portrays a very fine melody, and really accentuates the the variety between sections of the song (Berlin). Even though that this is one of Scott Joplin’s less popular songs, it perfectly personifies the evolutionary styles that are shown in the ragtime genre. Components of “Weeping Willow,” along with “Maple Leaf Rag,” were very much ahead of their time, and implemented in many musical works in the future.
Throughout the 1900’s, many artists has used styles that were made popular by Scott Joplin and many ragtime composers. In the decades shortly after Joplin’s death, many jazz artists released recordings and variations on Joplin’s work, using many of the same styles that were used in the original. These jazz performers, like Tommy Dorsey and Jelly Roll Morton, were just a few of many artists to...

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