Ragtime & Stride Piano
By
Dr. Mark Birnbaum


Stride piano (from New York City's Harlem) - a special brand of ragtime - coincides with the jazz age. James P. Johnson, Fats Waller and Willie "The Lion" Smith were "the big three". Although steeped in ragtime, stride pianists considered themselves jazz artists; they put a new twist on ragtime piano.

Not only is there syncopation between both hands, but also a counter melody played by a flexible bass line; sometimes there is syncopation with the left hand itself. Gone is the march-like "oompahoompah" in the left hand (a la Scott Joplin) and onto the swingy, blues oriented jazz of stride piano.

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