Thursday, May 29, 2008

Ragtime Undergoing Another Revival?

A question arises from me on the issue of what really constitute a “ragtime revival” and whether ragtime is an underground phenomenon like it did during the late 1800s before it exploded into scene in the early 1900s as a true rival with 1900 being the pivotal point in time when more pianists were doing and composing ragtime crediting many of the black rag timers who piqued their interests in this new music genre of the time.

Of course, nowadays I don’t think we have this “underground” phenomenon since there are many venues or festivals that take place every year in the United States for many new and old ragtime enthusiasts, and those who hear it for the very first time.

But at what point would the revival of ragtime constitute a true revival and not something that is perennially dormant only to come out when called? Would it be the number of ragtime sheets being composed be a good way to gauge the interest in ragtime? What about CD's? Or the rising number of newer and/or younger rag timers whether it’s the piano, a band, a guitar rag timer playing Maple Leaf Rag, or a banjo? Or would the rising number of ragtime festivals being held around the United States be a good gauge to determine the “revival” question? Perhaps a revival or a long, slow awakening is underway in the form of an electronic format via the internet such as using YouTube to watch and listen to ragtime being played? Or increasing number of blogsites and websites that revolve around Ragtime?

I posed a similar question in Yahoo’s Ragtime newsgroup “Elite Syncopations” and one remarked that there were more older people in the audience (live performance I suppose) than younger ones. That may be the perception but are many of these older people internet-savvy enough to download midi ragtime files or go to YouTube and punch in “ragtime” in the search engine and see the numerous pages of videos of people playing ragtime (mostly on pianos)? Who would that audience most likely be on the internet, the younger audience or older ones?

As for the number of ragtime festivals it has grown over the years with a few of them being around for more than 2 decades such as Sedalia’s Scott Joplin Ragtime Festival to celebrate their 28th anniversary this year. And recently we have the Rocky Mountain Ragtime Festival which held it’s last festival in 2005 (13th anniversary) and no longer but that doesn’t mean it won’t come back. Then we have the numerous more “recent” festivals that are becoming more established such as the ever so popular and growing Sutter Creek Ragtime Festival which will celebrate their 10th anniversary this summer. And then the smaller ones such as the Eau Claire Ragtime Festival celebrating their 10th anniversary and so on. How many of these festivals are there in the United States that celebrate Ragtime annually in the form of festivals or hosted in an era Main Street like atmosphere with familiar ragtime pieces being played that can be heard in the distance?

How do we know for sure that Ragtime is really on the upswing and that more people are appreciating it more with each passing year? And lastly but not least is how do we get the rest of the people’s attention or in this case the world’s attention about Ragtime, a timeless era and music that will never (hopefully so) go out of style.

6 comments:

Robyn said...

It is nice to find another deaf/hh pianist. There's not too many of us out there.

I play some ragtime - Scott Joplin mainly, my favourite - The entertainer.

However, I play a lot of Billy Joel, and all that stuff from the 70s'. Classic Rock. I also play classical - my favourite is Bach.

Cheers
Robyn
www.robyncarter.blogspot.com

Mike McConnell said...

That's great! I play classical, too but I do mostly Ragtime and early Jazz. I'll be putting up some videos soon.

There are other great pieces besides Joplin such as James Scott, Lamb, Jelly Roll Morton, Fats Waller, Zez Confrey, etc...

I hope that someday you'll produce a video of you playing the piano.

:)

cheers

Robyn said...

I might be inclined to do a video a little while. I recently lost all my hearing again when my iimplant failed, so didn't play for over a year. I'm a bit 'rusty', so need to play for an hour or two each day to warm up again :)

Cheers
Robyn

Mike McConnell said...

I hope I get to hear (and see) you play! As for me, I practice 2 to 3 hours everyday. Sometime longer. Mostly done at night when kids are in bed.

Robyn said...

2 to 3 hours practise a day. You lucky thing - I wish I could do that. I have a student studying for exams so I need to keep 'quiet' for now.

Cheers
Robyn

Mike McConnell said...

Plus, it's in the garage where it can get to 90 degrees after the sun goes down. I bought a fan yesterday to help me keep cool while I continue to bang out the keys.