JAZZ: Scott DeVeaux, W.W. Norton & Company


. . . how people came to the idea of ragtime. It really was existing on the plantation and things like the banjo, which was an African instrument, where you have the idea of syncopation coming across in a kind of music . . . the interesting thing is just seeing what happens when African Americans confront the piano, where they end up with a particular kind of approach. You use your two hands in certain ways, and one way is that the left hand is really [Deveaux demonstrates on the piano] . . . providing a foundation . . . [his voice is lost under the music here] . . . everything would be coming together in the same metrical framework.

But jazz musicians, or rather ragtime musicians, began to realize they could make a rhythmic contrast happen here, so the right hand is doing a different kind of rhythm . . . [Deveaux demonstrating on the piano] . . . so once you've got that, you've got the whole thing contained within one instrument, and in a sense, that's one of the things that worked for ragtime, aside from the fact that by playing it on the piano and writing it in the sheet music you could actually make some money off of it through the nascent American popular music industry.