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Ragtime A Bridge Between Two Cultures In 1974 Hollywood released a picture entitled The Sting The film starred Robert Redford and won numerous awards including Best Picture of the Year and Best Musical Score Almost overnight the American public was captivated with what some perceived as a new music Ragtime Actually the rebirth of Ragtime began several years earlier in the mid-sixties when the nation after a period of fifty years began to take a new interest in this music form And the music of Scott Joplin the King of Ragtime is now far more popular than was the case during the Ragtime Era 1897-1917 Ragtime sits at a point in musical history balancing both written European tradition and improvised syncopated African style Ragtimes musical roots can be traced through the spirituals sung by the slaves the minstrel shows of the 1870s and the march With this integrated history Ragtime occupies a unique position in American history It was the first American music that bridged the gap between western and African traditions In regard to the origin of the music there are many theories One view contends that Ragtime syncopation first appeared in the classical works of the American composer Louis Moreau Gottschalk 1829-1869 Others maintain that the music emerged from the minstrel show circuit and thus was originally a vocal form Another opinion is that Ragtime developed on the heels of the Cakewalk and was primarily dance music In the European written tradition of music there are strict definitions of the roles of composer performer and audience The European notation system has strict rules of meter and rhythm A time signature dictates how many beats are in a given measure and what kind of notes receives one beat For example in 44 time there are four beats per measure and a quarter note receives one beat A half note would receive two beats and a whole note would receive four beats Each
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