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Ragtime defined American popular music from around 1896 to 1918. Its catchy syncopated rhythms were applied to songs and dance as well as instrumental music. Ragtime originally derived from the cakewalk, a strutting dance of Afro-American plantation workers that became a popular theatrical and ballroom dance. The most famous composer of rags was Scott Joplin who's "Maple Leaf Rag" (1899) in particular was phenomenally successful. Others like James Scott and Joseph Lamb followed suit.

The ragtime song reached its peak in the dialect songs of the great black songwriting teams of Bob Cole, J. Rosamond Johnson, and James Weldon Johnson ("Under the Bamboo Tree" 1902), and Will Marion Cook. By 1910 any number of popular songs were called rags. The instrumental genre remained distinctive however, and led directly into the development of American jazz in the 1920s.

 
Alexander's ragtime band / words and music by Irving Berlin.
Berlin, Irving, 1888-
New York : T. Snyder, c1911
1 score (5 p.) : ill. ; 35 cm.
Image ID: WWM9937/G98C108/001

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