Tags:


Ragtime at the Library of Congress
November 22, 2006 12:38 PM   Subscribe

"Sit down, shut up, and listen to Ragtime!" Ragtime at the Library of Congress.
posted by trip and a half (8 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
Ragtime was previously discussed on the blue in this incredible post by y2karl. Um, sorry, I can't make an FPP like that. Just wanted to give a head's up to the LOC site, which is relatively new.
posted by trip and a half at 12:38 PM on November 22, 2006


Coincidence with your second link: A few minutes before you posted, I had xeroxed Joplin's "Maple Leaf Rag" out of a music book from the library, as I am learning it, and it will take longer to learn than the library has patience for my keeping the book out.

Some comments:
1.) Bob Milne (God bless 'im), from from the first link, says he became an itinerant pianist because "I didn't have to buy a suit and tie and go sit in an office...doing what they wanted me to do." So, let me get this straight: To avoid the torture of sitting in an office and wearing a suit, he follows a career that exposes him to a thousand times more humiliation and discomfort than any office job ever could, for little pay, and less regard from the world at large. Artists! They're nuts.

2.) Does anybody agree with me that ragtime and the early jazz that followed owe a lot more to the march than it usually gets credit for? The rise of both ragtime and jazz fall chronologically in line with the late 19th century and early 20th century rage for brass bands, whose epitome was the touring ensemble led by John Phillip Sousa.

What is a ragtime tune but a little march? What is a 1920s jazz tune but a syncopated, deconstructed march, played by a hopped up brass band?

People are always tracing ragtime and jazz back to some kind of African music. But really, the European march was the incubator of ragtime and jazz. The African-American geniuses who created ragtime and jazz rebelled against the stodgy strictures of the march, but they carried a lot of its forms with them into the new music.
posted by Faze at 1:24 PM on November 22, 2006


Does anybody agree with me that ragtime and the early jazz that followed owe a lot more to the march than it usually gets credit for?

Have you actually read any histories of ragtime, or are you just assuming what might be said by ignoramuses? The first two books I pulled off the shelf:

Max Harrison, Charles Fox, and Eric Thacker, Ragtime to Swing, p. 12: "...in some ways paralleling Sousa's determinedly optimistic marches..."

Gunther Schuller, Early Jazz (the classic study of the period), p. 33: "Despite the fact that it is difficult to find much exact schematic correspondence between ragtime forms and those of the march, the evidence points overwhelmingly to the march as the formal progenitor of ragtime."

Um, sorry, I can't make an FPP like that.

Don't worry, nobody else can, either, any more than any of us can play the piano like Art Tatum.
posted by languagehat at 2:28 PM on November 22, 2006


The connection to Sousa was even more direct than the quote above implies. This is from this article on the LOC site:

As assistant conductor and solo trombonist for the famous band of John Philip Sousa, Arthur Pryor helped spread the ragtime craze to Europe when the Sousa band toured there in 1900. Not only did he compose most of the band's ragtime material, but he also taught the Sousa musicians how to play the syncopations in a relaxed, unhurried way--the way that he heard it back in Missouri.

Um, sorry, I can't make an FPP like that.

Don't worry, nobody else can, either, any more than any of us can play the piano like Art Tatum.


Thanks. When I searched for priors and found that FPP, I was so intimidated I almost decided not to post at all!

posted by trip and a half at 2:41 PM on November 22, 2006


Also, I wanted to give a "heads up". *Hangs head in shame.*
posted by trip and a half at 2:51 PM on November 22, 2006


Also, I wanted to give a "heads up". *Hangs head in shame.*

Hey, wait a minute... you wanna give a heads up while you hang your head? That doesn't sound like it's gonna work.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:49 PM on November 22, 2006


I would pay a high price for a guarantee that I would never have to hear ragtime ever again. My first exposure was that theme song in The Sting, and that was bad enough.

It's like one of those trick candles that you can't extinguish - just when it seems it should be about done, it's just getting going again. A piece of music should have a beginning, middle and *end*.

In addition to the circularity there's often an insufferable *cuteness* in the themes, as in that Sting song. It's annoying in a bad way. It's fine for its fans, but please enjoy it in a soundproofed room far from me.
posted by jam_pony at 4:11 AM on November 23, 2006


Have you actually read any histories of ragtime...

No, I haven't, languagehat. So I found your comments interesting and illuminating.

It's like one of those trick candles that you can't extinguish - just when it seems it should be about done, it's just getting going again.

A lotta ragtime isn't so much like a play, or an opera, but a parade. The themes march past in procession, and you enjoy them as they go by.
posted by Faze at 6:25 AM on November 23, 2006


« Older To go along with all these turkey posts, Cranberri...  |  This just in... FOX is reporte... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments