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Ragtime Sources

by Ted Tjaden

Set out below is information on sources of ragtime music, organized into the following categories:

1)   Books on ragtime
2)   Print sources of ragtime sheet music
3)   Online sources of ragtime sheet music
4)   Essential recordings of ragtime music
5)   Ragtime organizations
6)   Major ragtime websites


1) Books on ragtime   [top]

The following books on ragtime music and the ragtime era represent some of the more important titles in the ragtime literature:

  • Badger, Reid. A Life in Ragtime: A Biography of James Reese Europe. New York: Oxford University Press, 1995.
  • Barile, Mary et al. Merit not Sympathy Wins: The Life and Times of Blind Boone. Kirksville, MO: Truman State University Press, 2012.
  • Batterson, Jack. Blind Boone: Missouri’s Ragtime Pioneer. Columbia, MO: University of Missouri Press, 1998.
  • Berlin, Edward. King of Ragtime: Scott Joplin and his Era. New York: Oxford University Press, 1995.
  • Berlin, Edward. Ragtime: A Musical and Cultural History. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1980.
  • Berlin, Edward. Reflections and Research on Ragtime. Brooklyn, NY: Institute for Studies in American Music, Conservatory of Music, Brooklyn College of the City University of New York, 1987.
  • Binkowski, Carol. Joseph F Lamb: A Passion for Ragtime. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2012.
  • Blesh, Rudi & Harriet Grossman Janis. They All Played Ragtime. 4th ed. New York: Oak Publications, 1966. Citations on this website to this book are to the 4th edition. The book was first published in 1950 by Alfred A Knopf.
  • DeVeaux, Scott & William Howland Kenney, eds. The Music of James Scott. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1992.
  • Frew, Timothy. Scott Joplin and the Age of Ragtime. New York: Friedman Fairfax, 1996.
  • Gammond, Peter. Scott Joplin and the Ragtime Era. London: Angus & Robertson, 1975.
  • Gilbert, David. The Product of Our Souls Ragtime, Race, and the Birth of the Manhattan Musical Marketplace. Chapel Hill, NC: The University of North Carolina Press, 2015 [book details].
  • Gilmore, John. Swinging in Paradise: The Story of Jazz in Montreal. Montreal, QC: Vehicule Press, 1988.
  • Hasse, JE, ed. Ragtime: Its History, Composers, and Music. New York: Schirmer Books, 1985.
  • Jasen, David. Ragtime: An Encyclopedia, Discography, and Sheetography. New York: Routledge, 2007.
  • Jasen, David & Trebor Jay Tichenor. Rags and Ragtime: A Musical History. New York: Dover Publications, 1978.
  • Jasen, David & Gene Jones. Black Bottom Stomp: Eight Masters of Ragtime and Early Jazz. New York: Routledge, 2001.
  • Jasen, David & Gene Jones. That American Rag: The Story of Ragtime from Coast to Coast. New York: Schirmer Books, 2000.
  • Jennings Haydon, Geoffrey & Richard Lawn. A Study of the Exchange of Influences between the Music of Early Twentieth Century Parisian Composers and Ragtime, Blues, and Early Jazz. Thesis/dissertation: University of Texas at Austin, 1992.
  • Karp, Larry. Brun Campbell: The Original Ragtime Kid. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Company, 2016 [book details].
  • Laird, Ross. Tantalizing Tingles: A  Discography of Early Ragtime, Jazz, and Novelty Syncopated Piano Recordings, 1889–1934. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1995.
  • Milan, Jon. Detroit: Ragtime and the Jazz Age. Charleston, SC: Arcadia Publishing, 2009.
  • Morath, Max et al. The Road to Ragtime. Virginia Beach, VA: Donning Company Publishing, 1999.
  • Ping-Robbins, Nancy. Scott Joplin: A Guide to Research. New York: Garland Pub., 1998.
  • Rose, Al. Eubie Blake. New York: Schirmer Books, 1979.
  • Schafer, William & Johannes Riedel. The Art of Ragtime: Form and Meaning of an Original Black American Art. Baton Rouge, LA: Louisiana State University Press, 1973.
  • Stewart, Philip. The Music of Charles Leslie Johnson: A Collector's Journey. Addison, TX: Aquila Media Productions, 2009. 
  • Sutton, A. Cakewalks, Rags and Novelties: The International Ragtime Discography (1894-1930). Denver, CO: Mainspring Press, 2003.
  • Swanson, Adam. Robert R Darch's Golden Reunion in Ragtime: The First Complete Study of a One-of-a-kind Recording Session. Thesis/dissertation: MM Peabody Conservatory, 2016.
  • Tracy, Steven. Hot Music, Ragmentation, and the Bluing of American Literature. Tuscaloosa: Univ of Alabama Press, 2015 [book details].
  • Waldo, Terry. This is Ragtime. New York: De Capo Press, 1991.
  • Whitcomb, Ian. Irving Berlin and Ragtime America. New York: Limelight Editions, 1988.
  • Williamson, Michael Noel. 'Ragging the Classics': An Examination of Ragtime in Piano Compositions by Claude Debussy, Percy Grainger and Igor Stravinsky. Thesis/dissertation: Parkville, University of Melbourne, 2013.

2) Print sources of ragtime sheet music  [top]

An excellent compilation of published sheet music is available online in a downloadable Excel spreadsheet through the efforts of Michael Mathew and a number of volunteer contributors. See:

The foregoing Ragtime Compendium is an excellent resource to verify the existence of a ragtime composition or find out is publisher and whether the piece has been published.

In addition, a number of libraries, primarily American, have large collections of ragtime-era sheet music that have not been digitized (for online, digitized sheet music, see below). The following libraries have large sheet music collections (in print):

  • The University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Song Index.

3) Online sources of ragtime sheet music  [top]

There are a number of excellent online sources of digitized sheet music collections that include large selections of rags and ragtime era music.

The most comprehensive starting point would be the Sheet Music Consortium at UCLA:

The foregoing site is a clearing house for the following individual sites:

In addition to the foregoing sites, there are a number of other digital collections that contain sheet music from the ragtime era that have not yet been harvested by the Sheet Music Consortium or are otherwise useful as individual links:

The following collections also contain (free) digitized sheet music, including some ragtime, but to a much lesser extent (set out below in alphabetical order):

Finally, you can usually find extensive sheet music for sale on eBay, which can be another way of obtaining hard to find ragtime sheet music:

  • eBay's Listings of Sheet Music Rag
In addition to the foregoing sources of online ragtime sheet music, readers may be interested in (free) online sheet music to the Brazilian tango music for the piano by Ernesto Nazareth and Chiquinha Gonzaga (my goal is to write a separate essay on this website on Brazlian piano tango music and its interplay with American ragtime music):

4) Essential recordings of ragtime music   [top]

On each of the separate essays I have written on ragtime music (see the table of contents to these essays) I have included recommended commercial recordings of ragtime related to each essay. In addition, there are a number of free MIDI recordings of ragtime music on the Internet, including the following sites:

Additional ragtime MIDI links can be found here.

5) Ragtime organizations   [top]

There are a number of ragtime organizations listed in the next section. In this section, I mention the online chat group hosted by Yahoo! called "Elite Syncopations":

6) Major ragtime websites   [top]

Set out below is a select list of ragtime websites:

  • John Arpin [Note: John Arpin passed away in 2007 so I am surprised this site has not been archived]




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This site created by Ted Tjaden. Page last updated: January 2020.