I would like to know if you would usually use the pedal for the stride bass in ragtime songs or not?

I heard that some people pedal the stride bass to make the jumps more fluent and others don't do it, to give it a more staccato feel.

But since the pedal is never notated in ragtime scores, I wanted to know if there is a 'right or common' way how to approach it, or if it's just a matter of taste?

  • I'd hate to put this in an answer - I'm sure I'd get downvoted to death... but dare I say "it depends how good you are"... I would pedal. I know one player who never does, unless it's for intent/effect [YouTube links available on request]. Needless to say he's a million times better than me ;-)
    – Tetsujin
    Commented May 19, 2019 at 14:41
  • 1
    As an aside, ragtime isn't always played in swing, so would the answer change for non-swing renditions of ragtime bass?
    – Dekkadeci
    Commented May 19, 2019 at 15:35
  • 2
    I'd actually read it as a typo/malaprop for 'stride'.
    – Tetsujin
    Commented May 19, 2019 at 18:08
  • Well yea, I've been taught the term 'swing bass' for that style, because your hand is swinging back and forth between the bass note and the chord. But you probably know it as stride (bass).
    – Andy
    Commented May 21, 2019 at 9:27
  • There are always exceptions and mixes of style. But 'Not swung' is a core definition of Ragtime.
    – Laurence
    Commented Jun 19, 2019 at 15:55

2 Answers 2


It depends, not only on the piece, but also on the piano, the room's reverberation, and perhaps how rowdy the audience is. Similarly inconclusive arguments rage about pedaling Bach, who didn't notate damper pedal because he was writing for keyboard instruments without one.


As with any piano music, it depends on the piece, and your interpretation of it. Pedaling is personal to each performer. The result is what matters and if you do or don't use the pedal to achieve that result, the choice is yours (unless the score has specified one way or the other).

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