The Impact of Music: Africa to America

In African & African-American communities, the role of music has carried our ancestors traditions and history. During the slave trade, the enslaved Africans would perform songs to tell stories. In the African-American communities, music allowed others to be united and express themselves freely. 

Experience of Music in the African and AA communities

Both communities, AA and African, were merged by their similarities with experiencing music. In traditional African communities, participation is group song/rhythm is highly encouraged and seen as sign of togetherness. During enslavement in America, the enslaved created and performed music at funerals to celebrate the passing of their loved one(s).

Difference in Timbre

Compared to European-derived traditions, AA and African timbre has been described as “noise”, “wild”, “crude” and etc. However, varying timbre in song has allowed the audience to praise and express their imagination freely. The aesthetic created though the use of unique timbre has created authentic music in the AA and African communities.

Musical Structures: Call-Response & Syncopation

The most two common musical structures found in African and AA music is CallResponse and Syncopation. Call-response reflects the community in song by elongating the choruses and improvising phrases and words. While with syncopation, or irregular rhythm, it brings complexity and uniqueness to community song. 

Zoie Richelieu

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