I listen to a lot ragtime pieces played by brass bands. What generally characterizes the drumming? Which elements of the drumset are used more and which aren't used as much?

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    Just a note: Historically ragtime was played straight, and not with swung eigths or sixteenths. Oct 21, 2012 at 11:39
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    Ooops! You beat me to it. Sly devil! Dec 20, 2012 at 9:59

1 Answer 1


Ragtime and Jazz percussion are similar - they do have their differences though. To focus on developing your ragtime skills, master press roll/rim/woodblock rhythm patterns (less of a swing feel than jazz) and use small splash cymbal patterns for keeping time. Press Roll: 4 beats with the right hand, on beats 2 and 4 do a press roll with the left hand. A two hand press roll or shimmy beat can add variety. Bass drum chugs along at beats 1 and 3, cymbals should be simple and not overbearing.

Here's a great example of ragtime drumming technique a friend sent to me

Hope this helps!

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    While cool, this is Dixieland. Ragtime doesn't swing, it keeps a strict time. Dec 20, 2012 at 9:58
  • I've never seen an authoritative source for ragtime always having straight eighths. There are multiple piano roll recordings of Joplin which are swung (which could have been added by the publisher, but in either case was not extemporaneous). Eubie Blake swung rags in his performances, AFAICT. I'm sure there are other examples. I think we might need a separate term for the straight, slow, unembellished versions that classical musicians pretend are historically accurate -- perhaps "Rifkintime."
    – johncip
    Aug 7, 2020 at 21:30

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