Ragtime and blues are the foundations of jazz. Both were initially very popular among African Americans as jazz came from an African background. The blues contain the musical structure of jazz with the 12 bar pattern, while ragtime supplies the unique syncopations and improvisations. The early musicians of blues and ragtime would eventually provide the transition necessary to move into jazz.
Blues contained the four-note structure, which is also the building block of jazz music. “Further the principal motif of the composition is typical of the blues. This four note figure seems to be particularly prized by composers ‘inspired’ by jazz” (pg. 254, Jazz its Evolution and Essence). Ragtime and blues were both similar in that they both came
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Scott Joplin, another ragtime musician, made a bigger contribution. His most famous work, “The Maple Leaf Rag”, sold hundreds of thousands of copies. Joplin was “not interested” in “haphazard” improvisations. He wanted to make “classical” ragtime comparable to Classic European music that would be “used in the larger, traditional forms such as operas and symphonies” (pg.29, Jazz: A History).
The blues are considered to be the “center of the jazz