The Charleston is a dance named for the harbor city of Charleston, South Carolina (whose original name was Charles Towne). The iconic rhythm pattern was popularized in mainstream dance music in the United States by a 1923 tune in the Broadway musical Runnin’ Wild called “The Charleston” by composer/pianist James P. Johnson. It is one of the defining songs of the decade of the 1920s, and helped transition popular music from ragtime and Dixieland to swing.
This style-piece by James L. King III includes the Charleston rhythm, which is based upon a Cuban clave rhythm.
Key: C major
Mood: fun, flirty, light, bouncy
Pedagogy: Charleston rhythm, parallel chromatic chords