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The Music

The music featured at "The Hamburg Boogie Woogie Connection" is foremostly, but not exclusively Boogie Woogie. Other featured styles are Blues, Ragtime, Jazz, Swing and Stride piano. Here we’ll provide a short overview what can be expected at "The Hamburg Boogie Woogie Connection".

First of all, there is Boogie Woogie. It originated as a stylistic device of the Blues (one of the most important roots of jazz) in the early 20th century in the South of the U.S. Mostly, it’s played in a rapid, danceable, rolling "eight to the bar" rhythm (eight beats per measure) with ostinato bass figures. It emanates pure joy of life.

The immediate precursor of Boogie Woogie was the Barrelhouse piano, a simpler style than Boogie Woogie. The Barrelhouse piano style emerged around the end of the 19th century in the U. S., when Blues musicians began to probably transpose their music from guitar to piano. The Barrelhouse piano is considered as a contrasting development to Ragtime, which shows much more influence of European music.

Ragtime came to existance in the last third of the 19th century in the South of the U. S., merging European music and African American folk music into a new, syncopated sound which is powerful and optimistic.

Stride piano is a direct successor of Ragtime. But Stride offers more improvisation than Ragtime. It was created before World War I in Harlem by pioneers such as James P. Johnson and Willie "The Lion" Smith. Fats Waller developped it into an important element of Swing piano.

Blues doesn’t have immediate European or African precursors, but rather came to existance around the mid-1800s in the slave quarters of the Southern states of the U.S. It’s the root of a great part of Northern American music, such as Jazz, Swing, Rock, Rock’n’Roll and Soul.

Last not least the Jazz, which ensued from Blues and Ragtime. Jazz emerged from American cities, particularly New Orleans, Memphis, Kansas City, Dallas and St. Louis and moved north, to New York, Chicago, Detroit and others. Also in Jazz, European and African musical influences mingled and produced a completely new musical world, from which a magnitude of styles was generated until today.

All these musical styles were played on the piano, too. Some of them, such as Ragtime and particularly Boogie Woogie, are almost exclusively played on the piano. The piano spread over the U. S. during the second half of the 19th century. The instruments travelled into the Wild West on trains and took its stand in every saloon, bordello, bar, sporting house or café. On these pianos, Boogie Woogie, Ragtime, Blues, Jazz, Stride, Barrelhouse and Swing were played, as long as the instruments sustained!