The Origins of Ragtime and Grime Music

Ragtime to Grime | 10 October 2020

Historic black and white photo of four ragtime artists gathered round a piano, posed fo rthe camera

If you have seen our show Ragtime to Grime – Bring It Home Tour, (or are planning to come to see it) you may be interested in finding out more about the origins of Ragtime and Grime music to help put the piece in context. And who knows….perhaps you’ll be inspired to delve further into these interesting musical genres to find pieces, composers, singers and rappers you love!

Ragtime is an African American musical invention – a genre of musical composition for the piano containing a highly syncopated or ‘ragged’ treble lead over a rhythmical steady bass.

The musical style, a forerunner to jazz, was popular from around 1899 to 1917 and it took its influences from minstrel-show songs, African American banjo styles and the dance rhythms of the cakewalk.

Famous composers of the time included Scott JoplinJames Scott and Joseph Lamb.

Grime is a genre of electronic music that emerged in London around the millennium. It typically has syncopated breakbeats and an electronic/jagged sound. The name comes from journalists who referred to the heavy sub-bass as ‘grimy’.

The musical style bears influences of drum and bass, dancehall, ragga and hip hop and is defined by the beats per minute which are generally around 135/145. Rap is an important element of the genre.

Pirate radio stations were important in the early days of grime as they were the only places it could be heard until it became mainstream. Artists include Dizzee RascallWiley and Stormzy.

To start you off on your musical exploration, click here

We will be sharing more music lists and more interesting weblinks in future blog posts so check back soon!

'The big 3' ragtime composers: Scott Joplin, Joseph Lamb and James Scott.
Grime artists performing
Crop of a ragtime record cover featuring some sheet music

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