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

Andy Bach afbach at GMAIL.COM
Wed Nov 7 14:30:08 EST 2018


> Is there evidence that a rag dance was played in ragtime?

Interesting snippet from "Out of Sight: The Rise of African American
Popular Music, 1889-1895"  By Lynn Abbott, Doug Seroff
https://books.google.com/books?id=kPJZTJtz1IwC&pg=PA444&lpg=PA444&dq=%22rag+dance%22+music+french&source=bl&ots=_aSoY7WTBO&sig=Nfb7-3JZkvTzNAdWwWLo9IuxtAc&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwiJ_d3j_cLeAhVLpFkKHYpJCJMQ6AEwC3oECAcQAQ#v=onepage&q=%22rag%20dance%22%20music%20french&f=false

It has a couple of 1890ish quotations, one of which is decrying the
modernization of "rags" to now be much more refined - from the Leavenworth
Herald, 11/2/1895:
The old time "rag" dance is dying out.  Nearly every thing which is done
nowadays is called "Modern," which means that a thing is not near so good
as it is when done in a way to designate that it is ancient. ... it is much
more interesting and amusing to see a coarser pair of individuals doing the
Mobile buck, or the wide open shuffle, or the pigeon wing, or the break
down. Before we die we want to attend a country "rag" dance and see the
people "chasse," "balance all," etc. We want to hear the caller, we want to
hear the patting of hands, and then we will die happy

Sort of sounds like the "rag" is akin to a square dance, at least with a
caller.  It goes on to quote Irving Jones who claims to have written (that
is published sheet music for) the first syncopated music "Pas Ma La Dance"
in 1893, which was cited as having a few "measures of real ragtime scoring"
in it. Also quoted: "They All Played Ragtime" essay by Rupert Hughes (oft
cited by ragtime historians)
"    Negroes call their clog dancing "ragging" and the dance a "rag" ...
[T]he dance is largely shuffling.
      The dance is a sort of frenzy with the frequent yelps of delight from
the dancer and the spectators, and accompanied by the latter with
banjo-strumming and clapping of hand and stamping of feet.  The
banjo-figurations is very noticeable in the rag-music and the division of
one of the beats into two short notes is perhaps traceable to the
hand-clapping."

On Wed, Nov 7, 2018 at 12:50 PM Baker, John <JBAKER at stradley.com> wrote:

> 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"
>
> External Email - Think Before You Click
>
>
> >> 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)
> >
> > ------------------------------------------------------------
> > 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
>
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org<
> http://www.americandialect.org>
>
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
>


-- 

a

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

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The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org


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