CAKEWALKS, RAGS, AND NOVELTIES: AN INTERNATIONAL RAGTIME DISCOGRAPHY (1895-1930)
Compiled and annotated by Allan Sutton
[Award: “Excellence in recorded historical sound research,” Association for Recorded Sound Collections, 2004]
Excerpts from the Foreword by David Reffkin
For researchers, collectors and fans of ragtime recordings, there are a few literary tools that are indispensable. Repertoire lists, composer biographies and a pseudonym directory come to mind. But the one that best serves multiple purposes is a comprehensive discography. In one volume, listings by the most useful category, composition title, succinctly supply proper composer and publisher information and correct spellings. Then follows the actual disc listings, wherein one immediately has at hand a valuable retrospective of most of the famous and obscure artists and groups who were part of the recording scene at the time, including musicians who made the titles household words. For the many collectors of sheet music, even those with a modest “piano bench” pile, the availability of such a discography brings to the paper artifact a context of history, perspective and a glimmer of hope that perhaps a recording of this unknown work actually exists somewhere and may be heard. Owners of period disc and cylinder recordings can find subtle bits of helpful information that would otherwise be missed….
…My hope is that casual readers, collectors and researchers will enjoy this volume on several levels, primarily, of course, as the useful directory that it is intended to be. But beyond that, it should be read with an appreciation not only of the infinite variety of musicianship that is catalogued, but also with a more informed conception of the fabulous era of music that it represents. As the director of a ragtime/salon orchestra, I find that the beauty and ingenuity of this original musical art is an inspiration in all our performances. The early years of recorded sound are rich with novel and pleasing sounds. For some, this discography will represent the final word in a lifetime of researching and collecting rare recordings. For others, it may be the first step in the pursuit of any number of interests in music. Either way, the intention of the composers and musicians was to hear their music. I hope the knowledge contained herein helps lead you to the sounds that they created.