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Player Pianos Phonographs and Recording Sounds of the Silents Ragtime & the Economy Ragtime and MIDI
"Perfessor" Bill Edwards Guide to Ragtime and Old-Time Piano
Ragtime and the Economy

A Condensed and not so Boring Thesis on the Effects of Ragtime Music on the American Economy
by Bill Edwards:

Contents Copyright ©2001/2004/2007 by William G. Edwards

When I first approached this seemingly unexplored topic in college, there was not quite the abundance of information on this mildly complex subject as there is now over two decades later. While it is not stated in any direct way that Ragtime music and related art forms helped the United States out of a financial and emotional depression, the music business was a major player in many ways that are not overtly obvious. What will be explored here are the phenomenon of trickle down economics and the process of fractal expansion within the music and entertainment industry, which was not always a tacit economic leader as it has been since the 1970s. In fact, there was no music industry per se in 1893, but it was clearly there by 1920. Some of this may be construed as opinion, which it is, but most of it is fact backed by hard data. I hope that you, as was I, will be mildly amazed and perhaps bemused when you see how Ragtime helped to save the American Economy.
As an addendum, and per the explicit suggestion of my friend, Ragtime performer and historian Max Morath, I would like to note that in the background of this text it would be helpful to note that the music industry grew in part because of new technologies it was able to take advantage of; primarily cylinder and disc phonographs, player pianos, telephone (which was used for concert demonstrations), and electronic sound reproduction and broadcast in the late 1910s. It should also be made clear that the term "Ragtime" (which Max suggests should be capitalized as a named genre) refers to the music of the Ragtime era that was influenced by piano Ragtime; not just piano rags, but all variety of songs, intermezzos, syncopated waltzes and dance tunes. Given this context, and the legacy of thousands of pieces of sheet music and piano rolls that came from it, the role of the growth of music in tandem with technology and the effects on a recovering economy will appear much more viable.
We must first explore to some extent how the United States was placed in a position where the music business could help it, and also a brief history outlining why the industry was poised to do so at what was a fortuitous time for them. It was the convergence of these needs that the makeup of American society changed radically within a mere two decades.
Economic Background:
In the last decade of the 19th century, the American economy, and to some extent the world economy, suffered a depression that remains second in scope only to the devastating financial crisis of the early 1930s.
An example of early Greenback currency.
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Soon after the establishment of the U.S. Treasury, there were both gold and silver standards used as a basis for money exchange both within the U.S. and between them and other world economic powers. Until the Civil War, the government prescribed ratio of the value between gold (used for large transactions) and silver (used for common money) at 15 to 1, changed that soon after the Civil War to a 16 to 1 difference. A post-Civil War group called the Greenbacks advocated for controlled inflation through the introduction of paper money into the American economy, deeming that it be backed by a minimum gold reserve, which was eventually set at $100 million. Others wanted the less risky and more tangible silver. The Greenback dollars were eventually guaranteed by the Reserve, but starting in 1878 the U.S. government started purchasing more silver for use in coinage, carefully keeping a 16 to 1 ratio in terms of gold and silver coin content per value.
The Bland-Allison Act of 1878 that allowed the purchase at the 16 to 1 gold/silver ratio had been vetoed by President Rutherford B. Hayes who warned that maintaining such a high ratio of minting would quickly overvalue silver and force gold out of circulation.
An example of Silver-based currency.
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Increasing popular demand for the white metal resulted in an override, and the purchasing began in large quantities. In 1890, the Sherman Silver Purchase Act was passed which mandated a doubling of the quantity of silver purchased, intended to back up an increase in circulated paper money, the first Treasury notes. While this was good for silver producers, it was inevitable that things might collapse. This was in part due to the rest of the world leaning more towards a gold standard. This further depreciated silver close to a 30 to 1 ratio of gold value, which meant the U.S. Government was overpaying by as much as 100%. International exchange of silver vs. gold coinage yielded vastly different results for coins of allegedly the same value. In short, the amount of silver in a dollar based on that 16 to 1 content ratio was actually worth around 50 in 1891. The overpayment for this metal that was becoming increasingly common created false inflation in the United States, a condition that is usually followed by economic downturn.
Early in 1893, banks were suffering as a result of investments in railroads, iron ores, and other commodities that sharply dropped in value.
An example of Gold-based currency.
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The U.S. government's gold supply, still in reserve for greenbacks, was dropping rapidly, and by April it fell below the mandated $100 million minimum. Since the government appeared to be unable to back currency effectively, banks began calling in questionable loans. On May 3, the stock market started plummeting, and a national panic began in the following days. Many banks began to fold as once stable companies found themselves unable to pay their debts. Starting in late June, President Grover Cleveland called for a repeal of the Sherman Silver Purchase Act of 1890, advocating that silver purchases should cease and nothing would replace these acquisitions. He eventually had his way in October when both houses of Congress repealed the act. While instantly creating a devaluation of most of the nation's currency in circulation, it helped to eliminate the false value of U.S. silver dollars, and a partial economic recovery was clearly noticeable within four years.

For more detailed information on the Silver Panic and its causes, you can read an excellent article at, which was used as a partial resource for this article.

Music Industry Background:
Typical 19th century American polka.
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In reality, calling the music publishing business an industry was laughable at best, even though it had a history traceable as far back as the 1790s in the United States. It took a lot of effort, risk, and true love of the craft of publishing and editing music to maintain a business, along with an acumen that many musicians did not possess. As a result, many partnerships between family members or friends who had different skill sets grew out of the need for sound business ability. Then there were issues with obtaining music to print, much less new compositions, and the process of getting that music circulated to the public. Typesetting was time consuming, as was the process of making woodcuts or lithography plates for the covers. There was also the problem of widespread distribution. Boston firms rarely saw their music distributed outside of New England, while San Francisco publishers sometimes did better business with Japanese or Russian sailors than with New York musicians due to geographical barriers. International trade for the music business in the mid 19th century was miniscule in comparison with that other tangible goods. Not many publishing firms founded before 1880 lasted more than a decade or so, and were often consumed by their more prosperous competitors.
One must wonder if a publisher often answered the question, "How can I sell more music?" with, "I need to obtain a hit song!" In reality, there was little in the way of "hit" songs before the 1890s, and some of the popular ones were disseminated to more than one publisher, often to the financial detriment of the composer. Even the great Stephen Foster, who was able to adapt or create American folk songs, saw very little benefit from his widespread popularity. There were a few songs that became well known across broad areas during the American Civil War and the westward expansion that followed it. But even these were circulated largely through performance and not through sheet music sales.
Music performance was also hardly the lucrative field it has now become into the 21st century. Performers often had few other skills, such as farming or an apprenticed trade, so they depended largely on their ability as musicians, actors or promoters to mete out a perilous standard of living at best. Most of the shows in the U.S. before the 1880s were itinerant in nature, with troupes traveling through regions looking for adequate venues to perform in - even settling for outdoors on many occasions. Admission prices in ratio to incomes of the time were rather insignificant, but the opportunities for entertainment in much of rural America through the middle of the 19th century were rare, so most everybody in town would take advantage of them. There was rarely any money actually budgeted for entertainment except among the middle and upper class population in the larger towns and cities. Also, many entertainers used their own material, and unless they had seen to publishing it for sale at their shows, the tunes would often disappear as soon as the troupe left town.
Advances in metallurgy and technology helped to reduce the cost of publishing in general, and advantageously so in terms of quantity of output. The advent of the transcontinental rail lines along with a better transportation network helped some publications see wider circulation. But even in the mid 1880s, the time had not come when entertainment was seen as more than some scurrilous occupation, or for the composers and publishers of music to penetrate rapidly into the American home with tunes that resounded through the heads of their occupants. This was all about to change.
The Changeover:
One of the obvious factors that created the panic situation was overbearing government intervention. Another less evident cause was the nature of businesses that were driving the economy in the late 19th century. It is clear why this time period was labeled The Industrial Age, as most of the major investments were in railroads, ores and coal, building materials, and lining politician's pockets by the industrial leaders. (as evidenced by the Tammany Hall scandal in New York City). The American worker was valued for his work ethic, but little consideration seemed to be given to leisure time. This is more so for family leisure time, since those public forms of recreation and entertainment that did exist were usually for men in what was a male-dominated society. This notion would change radically between 1895 and 1915. A changeover between the industrial conglomerates and the entertainment field was taking place, and in many ways they fueled each other.
The first true million-selling song, After the Ball
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The music of the early 1890s seemed to match the mood of the country in general. There were many thoroughly depressing tear-jerker ballads both produced and performed, and what little popular music aside from those that was getting notoriety were what would be soon known as "coon" songs. An example of the most famous of these tearjerkers from 1893 is The Fatal Wedding by Gussie Davis and William Windom. It vividly describes a wedding ceremony at which the groom's former lover shows up with his illegitimate baby in the throes of death. He proceeds to kill himself in front of the guests, whereas the child dies shortly thereafter. The bride takes responsibility for the future of the mother of her now deceased groom's child, and as they plan to live together the whole situation makes Hamlet look rather tame. But this was what was selling at that time. The first piece of what can now be termed as truly "Popular Music" was After the Ball by Charles K. Harris. Written in 1888, it took it more than a decade to reach the million copy milestone, but it was the first song to ever top that mark whereas its predecessors rarely saw anything approaching 100,000 copies. During the decade of the 1890s popular music experienced an extraordinary level of change, much of which either reflected trends in society, but some of which set new trends.
Little Egypt does her thing at the Chicago Columbian Exhibition.
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It was in 1893 that Ragtime was first reportedly heard, played either at the Chicago Columbian Exhibition or in some of the many venues surrounding the fair. It is also possible that this is where the great Scott Joplin initially encountered the music that would be his calling for the rest of his life. While the Ferris Wheel and belly dancer Little Egypt got the bulk of publicity at the event, visiting musicians were paying attention to this new style of syncopated piano playing. Many of them were the pioneers that took this raw form of the music and helped make it more palatable and easier to publish. By 1897, the word "ragtime" had been coined, and syncopation was starting to appear everywhere. By the turn of the 20th century in 1901, Cakewalks, Coon Songs, Marches, Rags, and other popular song forms were quickly overtaking the Maudlin ballads of the previous decade in both sales and performance frequency. While the majority of piano rags would see only regional distribution, Tin Pan Alley in New York city was soon a major factor in music production, and a much expanded and in many ways new industry was underway.
Economic Growth:
It is rare that the growth of one industry does not cross over or trickle down into others. The burgeoning world of music publishing and performance in the early 20th century provides a vivid example of this, and suggests a unique business paradigm as well. It was a fortuitous opportunity when initial demand was growing well beyond supply, but the changeover in the American economy was helping create a supply of workers who soon fueled the demand. As they are involved in a diverse number of industries in varying capacities, we will try to break down the distribution of supply in terms of each product, noting crossover where it exists. While not every minute facet of the great network that supported popular music creation and performance can be explored in this space, the general idea of how far reaching it actually was will be evident.

A rare First Edition of the Maple Leaf Rag.
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SHEET MUSIC: Existing publishers started working at a furious pace in the late 1890s to keep up with increasing sales, and many new publishing firms were created as well, although many were ultimately short-lived. While older established publishing houses were able to branch out into many divisions representing various genres of music, many more focused on trends or other market niches. Among these were vanity publishers, who would do a one time printing of nearly anybody's piece for a fee. For a great deal of the Ragtime era (1897 to 1917), most composers of rags, songs, waltzes, etc. sold their pieces outright to a publisher. While Scott Joplin did secure a royalty for the sale of many of his pieces, the most notable being his Maple Leaf Rag, this was a rare situation for its time. It was harder for a black composer to obtain royalties, although many white composers faced the same issue. Their instant payoff for selling a piece was quickly absorbed into the local economy, which motivated them to write even more. In many cases the publisher would reap benefits hundreds of times of what the purchase cost them, while the musician still had to scramble to make a living. Therefore, the publishers had the capital they needed for expansion and promotion.
However, to meet the increasing demand for sheet music, it was the expansion that was a large key to fueling the economy.
Rolling machine at an early paper mill.
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Paper mills, fed by the lumber industry, had to increase production. This also applied to paper used for newspapers as the public was becoming more literate and reading more. But the paper used for sheet music had to be much more durable, and therefore created a higher profit margin for the mills, as well as a need for more employees. This demand also applied to the ink producers, which was fed by both farming and petroleum, an industry that was, itself, about to experience an unprecedented boom. Then there was the metal needed for the printing plates, at least 50 times more in 1904 than was needed in 1894. The printing presses were always in need of menial workers who could run the machinery, but musical experience was required to produce the note typesetting for the plates. The number of employed artists in the United States rose dramatically as publishers started to employ colorful and catchy artwork for their covers. Some of the top artists could command as much or more for their covers as the composer did for the contents. While many publishers were still regional, and a number of them only sold their product in a company store that was often on the same premises as the printing press, the printed music still needed to be transported to other businesses that would sell it. The railroad industry as well as early truck drivers certainly benefited from this.

SALES AND DISTRIBUTION: Printing the music was one thing. However, getting it into the stores and eventually into the hands of the eager buying public was quite another. One position that had existed in many publishing house and was now gaining prominence was that of the salesman. But the parameters of that job were changing as well. Whereas in the past it was often a musician that took this position (a necessity to demonstrate songs), the qualifications for such a position were transitioning towards those with a higher balance of business acumen. And while music stores were opening at a record rate in the early 1900s, non-music stores, such as Woolworth's, were now taking on popular sheet music as part of their cornucopia of dry goods. This often meant employment of a pianist to demonstrate songs or rags right in the store. Even though there were a large number of male pianists in the United States, they were often working in other day jobs, or not available or amenable to such a position. As a result, it was the female, who was most often the member of the American family to have had some piano training, who filled these positions. This was a new direction in American culture, as previously most women were either homemakers or worked in sweatshop environments. Now those that were pianists could be independent wage earners (although still extremely disparate from men's pay scales) who could also shine as one person rather than as part of a group of mass laborers.
Another increasingly effective mode of distribution and promotion was that of celebrity endorsement.
Al Jolson - "The World's Greatest Entertainer"
Al Jolson
Sophie Tucker - "Last of the Red Hot Mammas"
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While this became much more prevalent in the 1910s with dominant personalities such as Sophie Tucker and Al Jolson, the temporary inclusion of a popular song into one of the dinner or evening shows at a local theater was considered a great sales pitch. This was often reinforced with copies of the music for sale in the lobby of the theater after the performance. The house often got some of the take from sales. There were also write-ups in the newspapers from time to time, which were considered free publicity, regardless of the nature of the review. So this sold more papers, induced the venue owners to get the best possible shows within their budget, employed more people to pitch and sell the songs, and created a supply of new entertainment for a demanding public. The growth of theaters and vaudeville venues grew exponentially between 1895 and 1910, driving many local economies where the capital was sorely needed.
Other marketing methods to get music into homes cannot be ignored. The publication of music-oriented magazines, both popular and classical, as well as distribution of select pieces such as Hello Ma Baby as Sunday newspaper supplements went a long way to putting ragtime in as many homes as possible. Catalogs of music libraries were routinely sent out, some via a parcel post spread, usually for free. General magazines also sometimes had supplements, and most had ads for music with some catchy samples, or for piano rolls and hardware to play them, much in the way that televisions would dominate magazines of the 1950s and 1960s. Even simple locales like Woolworths had music departments and demonstrators to staff them, and in these ways popular music helped propogate itself into its own popularity, albeit with a lot more effort than by radio, which would eventually be the most viable and widespread conduit.

PIANOS: In addition to the burgeoning sheet music industry, other facets of the economy saw clear gains due to renewed consumer confidence by 1898, and the desire to bring broader entertainment and leisure into the American home. Of course to play music in the home, a required piece of furniture was the piano.
Cornish Piano and Organ Factory in Washington, New Jersey around 1910, one of many small manufacturers that sprang up to meet demand.
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Sales of all manner of pianos soared consistently over the ensuing three decades, not to peak until 1927. This meant more business for lumber and steel mills, as well as trained technicians, salesmen, piano instructors, and those who wrote courses for playing popular piano styles, such as Chicago entrepreneur Axel Christenson. But the demographics of sales and the continuing desire to improve sounds brought changes to the construction of the piano as well. By 1918, the international standard pitch of A=435 cycles had been raised to A=440. This added up to two tons of tension to a tuned instrument, necessitating changes in pinblock design, frame strength, and the size of the cast iron plate. The short-lived square grand piano did not facilitate these changes, and all but disappeared from the marketplace by 1900. But uprights were made in large quantities, and were soon made as readily available to any citizen as looking in the Sears catalog and buying one on time. It was a combination of automobile and piano sales that helped foster the system of consumer credit that is now a staple of society.
But many consumers had neither the time nor the inclination
So easy a child could pump it. Early Gulbransen Player Piano advertisment.
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to learn how to play the piano, or at least where they were comfortable with their abilities. Knowing this, several attempts had been made since the 1850s to produce an automated piano. By 1900 a few push-up 65 note roll models were available that would actually press down on the piano keys as they were pumped. Within four years, pianos with internal player devices were available. Before the decade was out, many instruments were electrified, played 80 notes, and even allowed the introduction of expression into a performance. This concept grew into devices that played a variety of percussion, wind and string instruments in addition to the piano, all from a programmed roll. It was a boon for the consumer who desired music in the home without the requisite effort and the business owner who wanted low-cost entertainment during daytime hours. A whole new industry creating vacuum controlled pneumatic units for placement in pianos that could be easily modified by nearly any existing manufacturer was born, and it thrived for a quarter of a century. And of course there was always a need for software, so musicians often found extra employment arranging piano rolls. The crossover into phonograph records of piano-oriented music did not really occur until the early 1920s.

For more detailed information on this topic please view my Player Piano article on this site.

Coors Brewery in Golden, Colorado, a definite stimulus to the local economy.
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ALCOHOL: While many Americans did consume some alcohol at home, it was often produced by them or a neighbor in a still. Packaging of liquor for take-out consumption was still rather expensive, and the liquor industry was largely unregulated as well. So by 1901, many more people were inclined to participate in social drinking. In order to bring customers into a drinking or eating establishment in the days before "Happy Hours" were common, entertainment was utilized as a major draw. Between watering down of drinks and pricing alcohol at inflated levels, profit margins on liquor sales were appreciable. In addition, more young people were leaving the farms for careers in the city, and the average age of the drinking population was also decreasing. It became a challenge for the distilleries to keep up with the steadily increasing demand. This trickled down to farmers who were doing great business in grains and corn. It also led to some of the first large buyouts of family farms by companies such as Anheuser Busch and Adolph Coors, creating an early version of the corporate farm, a trend that became more prevalent in the 1950s with the advent of the supermarket.
Ragtime and liquor went together, and this combination was an experience afforded to the many millions of visitors to the 1904 Louisiana Purchase Exposition, also known as the 1904 World's Fair, with its many venues offering both. The musicians themselves imbibed in more than just alcohol, acquiring dependencies on some of the variety of opiates readily available before the advent of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. And the musicians often introduced select members of their audiences to drugs as well. Once these substances were made illegal, a black market was formed where these narcotics were still available, but at inflated prices. Addictions being what they are, business was good and the economy was still driven from within this diabolical cycle. In fact, it was the abuse and addiction of alcohol that contributed to one of the underground's greatest economic boons - the Prohibition of Alcohol in the United States ratified in 1920 in the form of the 18th amendment to the Constitution. Opium dens were still in operation, but now the Speakeasy was added to the mix, and many musicians could command even higher wages working in these venues. In addition, addiction and detox units were proliferating by necessity in American hospitals, creating more trained staff positions as well as state and local government subsidies.

For additional information on prohibition you may read a detailed article at

Glen Echo Park near Washington, D.C., one of many trolley parks where Ragtime could be heard.
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Whereas as recreation had not been a huge business in pre-Ragtime years, suddenly Americans were getting a taste for it and demanding more. Entirely new forms of entertainment started to emerge. Beer gardens, some of which had featured mild roller coasters known as "scenic railways," started promoting family trips to their parks on the weekends. By inventing and adding new ride attractions, ranging from Carousels and Ferris Wheels to Steeplechase rides, they started drawing a younger America that had some disposable income for the first time. They also tended to hire young adults to operate these rides for what evolved into the traditional Amusement Park. While the railroads were waning in popularity, mass transit in the form of trolley cars was rapidly gaining favor, and many cities had a trolley line that ended at one of these establishments, which were often designated Trolley Parks. Musical entertainment was also prevalent in this business, utilizing everyone from dancers to calliope players. Where there was virtually no industry in this regard in 1890, it was thriving substantially before two decades had passed.
Around the same time as the coin operated mechanical music devices were placed in public venues, so were machines that when cranked would spin a series of small photographs around in a specific sequence giving the illusion of motion. These nickelodeon devices were the precursor of the movie theater, a business that did not exist in 1900, but for which many grand palaces had been constructed before 1920. And with those movie palaces there was a need, in many cases driven by an edict from the production companies, for music to accompany the films. Elaborate multi-keyboard mega-stop organs were routinely placed in the best theaters throughout the country, and a musician who knew how to use these devices properly and displayed an innate ability to effectively enhance the screen action with sound effects and music could command princely sums for the run of a movie, or ever permanently. Even for a nickel or dime admission, the construction and operation of film venues was a lucrative business up through the late 1920s.
An alluring lady of Storyville in New Orleans, never out of style.
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It has been often noted that carnal recreation has never gone out of style. That being said, the "red light" districts (red lights were literally used to highlight the locations) and houses of prostitution started doing better business than ever with the advent of Ragtime. Many madams saw to it that their establishments were lavishly decorated, and always had a Ragtime pianist at the ready for the girls to come down and do their dance for potential customers. There have been a couple of stories [unsubstatiated but intriguing] that the very name of Ragtime comes from pianists in the back room playing for the girls temporarily off duty because it was their "rag time." Many cities zoned specific areas where prostitution was either legal or simply tolerated. The most well known of these was the Storyville district in New Orleans, Louisiana. Others had some level of fame, including 12th Street in Dallas, Texas and, coincidentally, in Kansas City, Missouri, one or both the sly reference of Euday Bowman's long-lasting Twelfth Street Rag. There was much crossover between the brothels and alcohol venues providing musical entertainment, and much redistribution of wealth as well. The owners did, after all, pay taxes, occasionally more than was required by neighboring businesses. As with alcohol, this was an aspect of the economy that started to suffer from its own success and excess, and idiosyncratic changes in public morality saw the houses and the surrounding districts shut down around the advent of Prohibition in 1920. This moral turn is ironic in the face of the flirtatious and sexually promiscuous attitudes of the 1920s. The loss of controlled prostitution actually turned out to be a blow to many local economies as the professionals were either out on their own now or found some form of representation. In such a situation, they were less accountable for tax dollars and could more easily retain a larger portion of their income, often keeping it out of circulation.
In Closing:
While it is evident that popular music and entertainment during the Ragtime era were not overtly obvious forces in the American economy, the trickle down effect from the many new forms of fiscal exchange that they created certainly helped drive things forward both in the circulation of dollars and increased employment for non-traditional workers. Similar boons, however temporary, have been experienced since then, as with the new employment opportunities afforded by the Second World War in the 1940s, and the rapid growth of Internet based companies in the 1990s. Entertainment has since become as much a factor in the world economy as the manufacture of durable goods or providers of business services. This is clearly evidenced by companies such as the television networks, sporting franchises, recording labels and film companies. Satellite and cable outlets now have as many as 100 audio channels alone, in addition to a couple dozen music video channels. Just the Disney Corporation alone helps to drive the economy of the entire state of Florida, and is regularly infusing dollars into circulation in France and Japan, and soon in England. Even the perceptions of the industry have changed, in part because of the revenue it generates, and in part because of the revenue it demands. There was a time as late as the early 20th century when musicians and actors were looked upon with the lowest of regard. Now members of these same professions can command salaries that equal the gross national product of many smaller countries in the world.
So it would be folly to dismiss the notion that something as simple as a revolutionary new music form could have a significant impact on the life of a farmer or a stockbroker. But an analysis of history as explored here suggests otherwise. And as to the lasting effect and continuing presence of Ragtime music? The late Ragtime Bob Darch probably said it best in one of his most famous quotes:

"Ragtime dead? Hell, I didn't even know it was sick!"

General Bibliography and Sources

Ragtime Webring-Dedicated To Scott Joplin

The Ragtime Webring-Dedicated to Scott Joplin and the music of the Ragtime Era, this ring is an invaluable resource for jazz music lovers, musicians and historians. Sheet music, midi files, afro-american history, record collectors...

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There are lots of great ragtime recordings by top artists available from
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Including some of my recommended favorites:

Max Morath Dick Hyman Dick Zimmerman
Paul Lingle Wally Rose Lu Watters
James P. Johnson Tony Caramia Squirrel Nut Zippers
Marcus Roberts Butch Thompson Jelly Roll Morton
Glenn Jenks Sue Keller Fats Waller
The Good Time Jazz Catalog and Bill's personal favorites, The Firehouse Five+2!

And don't miss these movies which include some ragtime music:

The Jazz Singer The Sting
Alexander's Ragtime Band Scott Joplin
The Legend of 1900 Ragtime
For Me and My Gal Meet Me In St. Louis
In the Good Old Summertime Take Me Out to the Ball Game
The Jolson Story Jolson Sings Again
Cheaper by the Dozen San Francisco
Somewhere in Time Titanic (1953)
The Other Pretty Baby
42nd Street Reds
The Son of Kong Story of Vernon and Irene Castle
Cheyenne Social Club The Shootist
How To Dance Through Time - Dances of the Ragtime Era

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