African Roots

Instruments in African American Music

  • Djembe: An African instrument used for story telling and healing. Makes three sounds: bass, tone, and slap.
  • Bones: An instrument comprised of two sticks made of wood used to play percussions. Became popular through the blackface minstrel shows as a featured instrument. Popularly used currently in bluegrass music.
  • Banjo: A string instrument created by west Africans and evolved by slaves and white men in North America. Early banjos origins are in 1620 and have evolved from a variety of stringed instruments used by west Africans on the Gambia river Banjos have a negative connotation for black people because of their use in Black minstrel shows.
  • Tamborine:  A rhythmic instrument derived from the black Baptist churches in the United States. 
  • Guitar: 
  • Frottoir/Washboard: 
  • Kora: An instrument made out of a gourd and string

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