New Orleans was a thriving cosmopolitan that cultivated blending cultures to form a merged community. The musicians that arose each developed their own essence to add to the growing culture and fostered the musical scene to what it is today. Through this development, jazz was born and brought out unique musicians who expanded the genre towards regions that further refined the sound. Before that refinement could be made, ragtime and blues collided to produce jazz. These two genres not only influenced how jazz sounded, but also how jazz was played. Ragtime, a syncopated and cheerful form, invoked loose dancing styles from its piano centered music. In contrast, blues conjured emotions connected to the past and brought a more soulful sound to listeners. Despite the differences between ragtime and the blues in their origins, forms, and desired purposes, these differences were vital in establishing the foundation of jazz.
Ragtime and the blues emerged from different spectrums in African American backgrounds. Each genre has individual experiences that contribute to the defining characteristics of each. Scott Joplin, a ragtime pianist, was convinced that ragtime was "the kind of music that could move out of the saloons and into middle-class drawing rooms," but in actuality, "the larger public did not consider ragtime to be on par with 'better music'" (Haskin 39). On the other hand, W.C. Handy popularized "Memphis Blues" and made it a classic. The two artists withstood difficulties in attempting to popularize their music. Ragtime originated through traveling pianists aggregating to the Mississippi river where they mixed their styles with that of the folk songs, dances, and hymns from the people in the region to produce ragtime's characteristic syncopated style. Joplin excelled at this "ragged" style and pursued a music career that made him not only popular, but also respected.