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The Very Best Ragtime Songs

Updated October 10, 2018 2.5k votes 659 voters 39.0k views43 items

The best ragtime songs are those which capture the magic of the era. Ragtime’s golden era was from roughly 1899 to 1915, when it gave way to early jazz. Unlike jazz, ragtime wasn’t improvisational music at all. It was primarily composed for solo piano, though there are some guitar ragtime songs floating around.

This ragtime songs list includes some of the top ragtime songs of all time. You might recognize the names on here as well, like Scott Joplin, who is known as the “King of Ragtime.” You’ll find many of Joplin’s most popular works on this list, including “Maple Leaf Rag,” “The Entertainer” and “Pineapple Rag.” Other well-known musicians with famous ragtime songs include James Scott (“Frog Legs Rag”), Joseph Lamb (“Bohemia Rag”), Eubie Blake (“Charleston Rag”), and Jelly Roll Morton (“King Porter Stomp”).

If you’re just starting out with the history of ragtime, begin with Scott Joplin. His work is arguably unmatched by any other ragtime artist. Enjoy listening to Jelly Roll Morton’s tunes, and see if you can pick out the ways ragtime influenced his early jazz work. Fall in love with Fats Waller, Max Morath, and Leon Redbone. Above all, have fun with the genre's syncopated, “ragged” melodies.

Vote for your favorite good ragtime songs, and enjoy!