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Old Western Saloon Music


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I am really interested in learning some music like they used to play in saloons. I've heard it was ragtime and then player piano, but regardless I really want to learn some. I know Scott Joplin is really good, but the stuff I'm looking for is like the part in Army by Ben Folds where he starts jamming. All of this aside, does anyone know anything like Scott Joplin type music that is somewhat challenging, remember I'm no prodigy. Thanks!

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  • 4 years later...

An old post and a VERY late reply... I know.

I just stumbled over this and I have to answer.


Unfortunately, saloon music is NOT ragtime!


I quote Wikipedia on this, which is a rather correct source in this matter:

Ragtime originated in African American musical communities, in the late 19th century, and descended from the jigs and marches played by all-black bands common in all Northern cities with black populations (van der Merwe 1989, p.63). By the start of the 20th century it became widely popular throughout North America and was listened and danced to, performed, and written by people of many different subcultures. A distinctly American musical style, ragtime may be considered a synthesis of African syncopation and European classical music, though this description is oversimplified.



Joseph Lamb's 1916 "The Top Liner Rag", a classic rag.Some early piano rags are entitled marches, and "jig" and "rag" were used interchangeably in the mid-1890s (ibid.) and ragtime was also preceded by its close relative the cakewalk. In 1895, black entertainer Ernest Hogan published two of the earliest sheet music rags, one of which ("All Coons Look Alike to Me") eventually sold a million copies.[


The typical western with the typical saloon and the likes is set around the late 70's, early 80's of the 19th century. Ragtime did NOT exist at that point yet.

Though there are some first signs of ragtime in the 1850's, these have been "niggermusic" (SIC!) and as such not tolerable in saloons.


Now... what IS saloon music then? Well, good question! That's what I am searching for myself!

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