The first genre of music to be commonly known as honky tonk music was a style of piano playing related to ragtime, but emphasizing rhythm more than melody or harmony, since the style evolved in response to an environment where the pianos were often poorly cared for, tending to be out of tune and having some nonfunctioning keys. (Hence an out-of-tune upright piano is sometimes called a honky-tonk piano, e.g. in the General MIDI set of standard electronic music sounds.)
Such honky tonk music was an important influence on the formation of the boogie woogie piano style, as indicated by Jelly Roll Morton's 1938 record "Honky Tonk Music" (recalling the music of his youth, see quotation below), and Meade "Lux" Lewis's big hit "Honky Tonk Train Blues" which Lewis recorded many times from 1927 into the 1950s and was covered by many other musicians from the 1930s on, including Oscar Peterson and Keith Emerson.
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