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As Nancy Ping-Robbins observed, “Ragtime as a topic of real scholarly pursuit [was] mostly ignored until the 1980s,” and most sources published prior to that “were originally designed for a general audience.”1 Since Ping-Robbins wrote almost two decades ago, scholarly interest in ragtime has lessened again. This decline is unfortunate, since classic ragtime contains a high degree of complexity, blending the traditions of African American folk songs with the practices of nineteenth-century European music—seen especially in pieces composed by Scott Joplin, inventor and master of the genre—making it a topic rich for critical commentary. However, the genre was poorly received by the classical audiences, due both to its ties to popular music and its roots in African American culture, and it consequently did not receive the attention it deserved. As a result, Joplin’s ragtime compositions have largely been overlooked by academic musicologists of the past century.


Trinity University


San Antonio

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The Expositor: A Journal of Undergraduate Research in the Humanities