The impact that African Americans had on the history of classical music is usually overlooked when considering the genre.  Originating from the 16th century to the 20th century, black composers and conductors contributed a great deal to the classical genre, giving it a distinct sound that could not be compared to white classical music.

Classical music is generally characterized by one clear melody that is distributed among a set of different instruments. Its sound has a strong emphasis on being graceful and beautiful, while also being polished and elegant.  All instruments come together in an orchestra, composing one united sound.

Three notable composers in the Afri-Classical genre was Samuel Coleridge Taylor, Duke Ellington, and also  Scott Joplin, who was also an emerging figure in the ragtime genre.