[Ads-l] Antedating of the Term "Ragtime"

Baker, John JBAKER at STRADLEY.COM
Wed Nov 7 13:50:38 EST 2018


Wikipedia suggests, without support, that rag/ragtime derives from the historic Shake Rag neighborhood of Bowling Green, Kentucky, the home town of the first published composer of rags, Ernest Hogan.  While a derivation from “rag dance” seems plausible, the Shake Rag origin probably should be considered too.  Is there evidence that a rag dance was played in ragtime?


John Baker



From: American Dialect Society [mailto:ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU] On Behalf Of Andy Bach
Sent: Monday 5 November 2018 4:20 PM
To: ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU
Subject: Re: Antedating of the Term "Ragtime"

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>> It is written in a peculiar measure, called "rag" time, and he not only
couldn't write the music to such a melody, but never heard of the tempo
before.
> I haven't seen any early examples of "ragtime" or "rag time" - although
I've seen quite a few from later in 1896.

> I have looked at "rag music", "rag dance" and other music-related
"rags." "Rag dance" and music may be derived from an English translation
of a Southern/French-influenced New Years Eve tradition of a masquerade
that featured a > French-language song about rag dancing, described from as
early as the early-1870s. A specific style of music associated with rag
dances appears to have emerged by the early-1890s.

Yes, it seemed that first use of " 'rag' time " was a reference to the
tempo of a "rag" song or rag music. So it would seem that it was after
that that the words were joined to become the name of kind of music. Maybe
a "rag time" band did everything in rag time - as with ska bands who adapt
everything from "I'm in the mood for love" to "Tears of a clown" to ska
tempo.

On Mon, Nov 5, 2018 at 3:03 PM Peter Reitan <pjreitan at hotmail.com> wrote:

> I haven't seen any early examples of "ragtime" or "rag time" - although
> I've seen quite a few from later in 1896.
>
> I have looked at "rag music", "rag dance" and other music-related "rags."
> "Rag dance" and music may be derived from an English translation of a
> Southern/French-influenced New Years Eve tradition of a masquerade that
> featured a French-language song about rag dancing, described from as early
> as the early-1870s. A specific style of music associated with rag dances
> appears to have emerged by the early-1890s.
>
> "Rag music" from as early as 1895.
>
> The Courier (Lincoln, Nebraska), April 20, 1895, page 8.
>
> "If Mr. Herbert, who gave us so much clap trap music Monday night, could
> have heard the Thomas orchestra concert at the Funke Thursday night, he
> might have learned, and possibly to his surprise, that a Lincoln audience
> is capable, on rare occasions, of manifesting a cordial and intelligent
> appreciation of such pure music as Dvorak’s symphony, “From the New
> World.” The enthusiasm over the rendition of this wonderful symphony, and
> other selections on the Thomas program, was quite as intense as that which
> followed the performance of the “rag” music Monday night."
>
> "Rag dance" from as early as 1876.
>
> The Daily Intelligencer (Seattle, Washington), September 26, 1876, page 3.
>
> "A Rag Dance will be given at Yesler’s Hall on Tuesday evening the 26th
> inst. All parties wishing to participate in the dance must come before 12
> o’clock attired in rags, otherwise they cannot dance till after that time.
> The most ragged looking individual in the room will be rewarded with a
> prize."
>
> "Rag dance" may be derived from an old French, New Year's Eve tradition in
> St. Louis called La Guignolee, a masquerade at which they sang "La
> Guignolee", which included the lyric, "dansons le Guenille"
>
> The dance was described as early as 1873. The writer translated the lyric
> "dansons le Guenille" as "dance the rag".
>
> The Fair Play (Ste. Genevieve, MIssouri), Janury 30, 1873, page 1.
>
> “On New Year’s eve, soon after nightfall, the young men of Saint Louis
> would assemble together, at some appointed place, dressed out in the most
> fantastic masquerade costumes . . . . [T]hey sang “La Guignolee,” this they
> called "courier la guignolee," running the guignolee.”
>
> The Southern/French-influenced origin appears supported by a later
> references to a "Mobile rag dance" given in Rock Island, Illinois in 1891.
> Rock Island Daily Argus, February 21, 1891, page 3.
>
> In 1896, some "Cake Walks" included a separate "rag dance" contest for a
> ham.
>
> One writer described that in some places "rag dances" were eclipsing "cake
> walks" as the dance for which the cake was awarded - it sounds a lot like a
> free-form square dance.
>
> The Yakima Herald, September 10, 1896, page 2.
>
> "Everybody ‘Rag.’ A New Southern Amusement that Has Succeeded the Famous
> Cake Walk. The old southern “cake walk” is becoming a thing of the past in
> some parts of the south. In its stead there is now a dance, which is known
> as the “rag.”
> The dancers form a square in the center of the dance hall, each standing
> separately, a man and a woman alternately.
> Then there is a caller who stands in the middle of the floor.
> “Join hands!” he yells. There is a shuffle of the feet and the gentlemen
> “sasha,” or dance, across the room and join hands with the ladies. Both
> shuffle their feet, when presently the caller yells at the top of his
> voice: “Everybody ‘rag!’”
> Dancing continues for some time, and when all is over the best “ragging”
> couple are awarded the cake.
> The “rag” is a dance very similar to the “old Virginia reel,” but there is
> more shuffling of the feet and it is of longer duration."
>
>
>
>
>
> ________________________________
> From: American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU> on behalf of
> Shapiro, Fred <fred.shapiro at YALE.EDU>
> Sent: Monday, November 5, 2018 8:02 AM
> To: ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU
> Subject: Antedating of the Term "Ragtime"
>
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header
> -----------------------
> Sender: American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster: "Shapiro, Fred" <fred.shapiro at YALE.EDU>
> Subject: Antedating of the Term "Ragtime"
>
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
>
> I believe that the earliest use of the term "ragtime" that has been
> discove=
> red by musicologists is Ben Harney's composition "You've Been a Good Old
> Wa=
> gon but You've Done Broke Down," described on the cover of its sheet music
> =
> (copyrighted August 5, 1896) as "Written, Composed, and Introduced by Ben
> H=
> arney, Original Introducer to the Stage of the Now Popular 'Rag Time' in
> Et=
> hiopian Song."
>
>
> I have found a slight but important antedating of "ragtime":
>
>
> 1896 _San Francisco Examiner_ 5 Jan. 8/6 (Newspapers.com<http://Newspapers.com>) Did you ever
> hea=
> r of a German being able to write a coon song? Why Hirschbach tried to
> orc=
> hestrate it, but never got it right. It is written in a peculiar measure,
> =
> called "rag" time, and he not only couldn't write the music to such a
> melod=
> y, but never heard of the tempo before.
>
>
> The Oxford English Dictionary's first use of "ragtime" is the "You've Been
> =
> a Good Old Wagon" sheet music, but the San Francisco newspaper article
> clea=
> rly antedates that.
>
>
> Fred Shapiro
>
> Editor
>
> Yale Book of Quotations (Yale University Press)
>
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> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org<http://www.americandialect.org>
>
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org<http://www.americandialect.org>
>


--

a

Andy Bach,
afbach at gmail.com
608 658-1890 cell
608 261-5738 wk

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