The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #65553 Message #1082173
Posted By: Q (Frank Staplin)
30-Dec-03 - 02:41 AM
Thread Name: What makes a tune a Rag?
Subject: RE: What makes a tune a Rag?
There were many ragtime composers. Irving Berlin and Ted Snyder wrote at least a dozen.
CraigS, your source apparently liked only the very formal piano compositions. I understand his point of view; I have all (maybe) of Joplin's, a few of Scott's ("Frog Legs Rag" is a favorite title- wish I had it on record), and a few by other composers.
At the beginning, the cakewalk was a strong influence, also the march. The minstrel connection was strong, and a number have 'coon song' lyrics. Some of these were by African-American composers (e. g. Smalley and Adler, "Dat Lovin' Rag"). Some composers used pseudonyms (e. g. who was Dippy Dip?). Rags were published in western cities such as Tulsa as early as 1906 ("Just Noise," Stewart).
Here are some of the early ones (sheet music at Levy, American Memory, Brown Univ.)
La Pas Ma La. 1895. Ernest Hogan. Sung by Jennie Whitbeck in the play "At Gay Coney Island." (Copy at Levy)
All Coons Look Alike To Me. 1896. "Choice chorus with Negro rag." Sung by May Irwin. Ernest Hogan (composer of the "famous Pas Ma La").
Missus Johnson's Rent Rag Ball. 1897. Hamill and Lewis.
Shake Yo' Dusters, or Piccaninny Rag. 1898. W. H. Krell (see Mississippi Rag, posted above, 1897; not the earliest as suggested in the OED).
Louisiana Rag Two Step. T. H. Northrup. 1897 (instrumental pas ma la rag, supposedly from Negro dancing).
Rastus Thompson's Rag-time Cake Walk. 1898. Sterling and Von Tilzer (well-known for other types of popular compositions).
Original Rags. 1899. Scott Joplin arr. C. N. Daniels (piano score, #4). American Memory, at Duke Univ.
Prancin' Jimmy. Cakewalk and Two-step. 1899. E. B. Claypoole.
His Rag Time Walk Won the Prize. 1899. Nathan Bivens (Cake walk the basis).
Phoebe Thompson's Cake Walk. March and Two-step. 1899. Sadie Koninsky.
Turkey in the Straw, a Rag-time Fantasie. 1899. Otto Bonnell.
You Can't Boss Me. 1899. Mildred Lawrence and T. H. Chilvers (more of a cake walk).
Lady With the Rag Time Walk. 1899. Armstrong brothers. Performed by Lew Dockstader.
You Gotta Play Rag Time. "Hoot Man." 1899. Sung by Maude Raymond. Havez and Sloane.
Ragtime continued in popularity into the early 1920s.
Some of the late ones are anon. "Clemmens Rag," recorded by Lomax at the Clemmens State Farm (prison) in 1939.
"West Virginia Rag," "Rag in C" and others by the Reeds' (American Memory, audio) are fiddle rags, with strong country fiddlin' flavor. These could be considered folk rags.