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Word Count: 788
The Ragtime Story The history of ragtime is mirrored in the life and progress of Scott Joplin This is not merely because Joplin was one of the great ragtime composers The King of Ragtime experienced many of the elements whose confluence developed into those Euphonic Sounds which were the musical delight of America and even Europe at the turn of the century The birth of ragtime is commonly set by the date of the first published rag In 1895 Ben Harney published his ragtime song Youve Been a Good Old Wagon in Louisville This was the man who a year later brought ragtime to popularity in New York City The first instrumental ragtime was William Krells Mississippi Rag in January 1897 It was not until the end of 1897 however that Negro instrumental ragtime made its way to the publishers presses with Tom Turpins Harlem Rag Having already published marches and waltzes Scott Joplin finally published Original Rags in 1899 Relying on published works of music is misleading This view of the birth of ragtime suggests that white men were at the forefront of sculpting the art form and that the best ragtime was committed to the printed page Blacks were playing ragtime long before Krells Orchestra and making enough money from tips to live well Even when publishers began to accept their lively syncopated pieces many composers rarely sold their work having little need of money beyond the tips that accompanied performances in bars or on stage If publication represents the birth of ragtime then there had been a long gestation including many late night sessions when pianists and bands would rag behind closed doors--in private homes or in bars after closing--where the most elaborate and boisterous music was often reserved for the artists personal enjoyment Like any musical style ragtime had its roots in many predecessors But even after ragtime developed into a recognizable style publishers shyed away from the
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