Music from Africa to America

By: Allison Carter

The role of music in Communities in Africa

The role of music in African American Communities

In the 1600s, West African villages had their own musicians and singers that would give performances. These performances gave them a superior status to sit with the kings and chiefs. They created music to celebrate things like agriculture, the crowning of a new king or chief, and important events from the past. Another big part of music was the dancing that came along with it. They used instruments like drums that ranged in sizes 10 to 12 inches or feet. A popular African musical style was the call-and-response technique which would allow a lead singer to sing something while the others would sing back a repetition of those words. African music helped to connect people together to strengthen their community.

One role music plays in the African American community is a reflection of people's lifestyles and mindsets of black life that many African Americans have to grow up through. In this particular song,Meek Mill discusses his dreams of being at the top while also rapping about his very low lows that were represented as nightmares.

Music is created, performed, and experienced in African and African American communities through numerous ways. Creativity of music in these communities can come from life experiences, fantasies, or just from the heart. This song shown to the right is an example of a song that is created from real life experience. There is so much history in Africa that was taken away from African American through slavery. Music was a major concept for black people and it was a way for black people to come together as one.

Music can be performed through instruments, singing, rapping etc. In Africa they use a method called call and response. The call and response method is when there are two distinct phrases where the second is heard as a direct commentary or in response to the first.

Music was performed by African people with their singing, dancing, clapping of hands, stomping of feet, and shaking of rattles. They would also use drums to create a nice rhythm. Slaves were not allowed to use loud instruments because their owners would hear, so they stuck to clapping their hands and stomping their feet. Their music also consisted of English words mixed with their own made-up words.

African and African American Music

African and African american people would use different methods like imitating their voices or bottleneck. They would use instruments like the guitar, jug, and banjo. Europeans didn't use these techniques or instruments.

The most common technique used was call and response.The call and response method was a structure that allowed a soloist to sing something and in return, someone or a group would sing something back 

European Music

Europeans didn't like the sound of African and African american music. They thought it sounded weird and they didn't enjoy it.

Rhythm and syncopation are a couple of examples of things that Europeans don't include in their type of music. Syncopation is when the music accent changes from the original Europea beat.

The two most common musical structures used in African American music is call-response and polyrhythms. Polrhythyms are when multiple rhythms are played are sung at the same time. It allowed many people more people to be involved in the music. They both reflect the communal and interactive approach to making music because they are both unique to black music and use specific techniques within each structure which defines this particular kind of music. Call-response and polyrhythms both play a huge role in African American music and have influenced the way artists will continue to make music forever.

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