revised and expanded edition
Copyright (c) 2013, 2017 by John Borstlap
This post was partly inspired by reading Ethan Hein's interaction with a number of people about hip hop as popular music. While I admit hip hop isn't exactly my favorite style I've been enough of a fan of ragtime in my life to recognize that there are some fascinating parallels between the ragtime debate of the late 19th and early 20th centuries in the United States and more recent debates about the musical value or lack thereof in rap, hip hop and electronic dance music. Since in historical terms the age of ragtime transformed into the age of jazz ragtime's history as popular music that became an accepted genre in the classical piano literature seems pertinent to a couple of things Ethan Hein has been interested in exploring.
Ragtime exploded in popularity because of manufacturing innovations for pianos in the United States and also because of the advent of player pianos and piano rolls. The comparison is necessarily an imperfect one but ragtime could be seen as benefiting from what was then new production and publication technology and, as noted above, the "ragging the classics" practice within ragtime could be compared to a more contemporary custom known as sampling. The number of parallels, imperfect or indirect as they might seem to some, perhaps, between ragtime and rap as genres of popular song, seems worth considering.
And since pretty much all ragtime that I'm aware of from the Scott Joplin/James Scott/Joseph Lamb school of ragtime is gloriously public domain by now it's ripe for sampling.