|Alexander's Ragtime Band |
Alexander's Ragtime Band is the name of a song by Irving Berlin.
It was his first major hit, in 1911.
There is some evidence that Berlin borrowed the melody from a draft composition submitted by Scott Joplin that had been submitted to a publisher.
Alexander's Ragtime Band" is not itself an example of the ragtime musical idiom; apart from some mild syncopation, it has almost none of ragtime's characteristic features.
The lyrics clearly refer to the arrival of African-American musicians on the popular scene with their then-new idea of playing standard songs in a more exciting up-tempo style.
Oh ma honey . . . ain't you goin' to the leaderman, the ragged meter man
References to "jazzing up" popular music include:
They can play a bugle call like you never heard before
So natural that you want to go to war
That's just the bestest band what am, honey lamb
If you care to hear the Swanee River played in ragtime
The new style included new ways of playing traditional instruments as well:
There's a fiddle with notes that screeches
Like a chicken
And the clarinet is a colored pet