A Brief History of Piano Greats and Jazz

Powerful Essays
A Brief History of Piano Greats and Jazz
The piano has been a pivotal instrument throughout the development of jazz music. Starting with ragtime, which developed out of classical music, all the way to modern jazz the piano has been a foundational instrument upon which many styles have been built. This is a result of the versatility of the instrument, as it has the ability to play accompaniment, rhythm, and solo improvisation simultaneously. Throughout the course of jazz history many musicians have utilized the piano to develop new and unique styles. These great musicians used influences from all sources to develop these new genres of jazz and are renowned for their ability still today.
The piano was pivotal to one of the first jazz-genre movements of the late 1800s to early 1900s; the development of ragtime. This genre developed in the New Orleans, due to the melding of the eclectic ethnicities that coexisted within this port city (Berlin 1994). Ragtime is named after its swing-like feel which is accomplished by accenting the off-beat; this is also commonly referred to as “ragging the beat” (Berlin 1994). This style was conceived through the mixing of the polyrhythmic styles of African Americans and the structured classical style of White Europeans (Berlin 1994). Scott Joplin was one of the most prominent ragtime pianists of the time period and helped to develop the style, which earned him the title “King of Ragtime” (Berlin 1998). Joplin’s most famous ragtime piece, “Maple Leaf Rag” (, was published in 1899, named after the Maple Leaf Club in Sedalia, Missouri where Joplin used to play in his youth (Berlin 1998). As shown in the above figure (, the left hand ...

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...ornia: University of California Press.
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