Music from Africa to America

by Bailey Hollins

The Role of Music in African Communities

 The role music in African and African American music is greatly present in expressive performances and practices which includes music styles such as blues notes and call-and-response. African and African American communities perform music at many of their royal gathering, recreational activities, and funerals to celebrate the passing of a life from one spiritual realm to another. 

People of the African and AA communities clap hands, stomp feet, and use djembes as well as other instruments in order to create and perform music. Voices are joined together in melody and harmony to sing songs/hymns that have since laid the foundation for American music forms including blues, soul, jazz, and even hip-hop.

The Role of Music in Communities in African American Communities

The timbre of African music is majorly created by the distinct instruments used in song. For instance, instruments such as the harmonica, the banjo, and the djembe are not commonly heard in European derived traditions. This is the main difference between the timbre of African and AA music as it relates to European-derived music. 

The two most common musical structures found in African and AA tradition are call-and-response and ring shouts. During the call-and-response structure,  a singer makes a statement or call after which a single person or group of people respond to the statement. Ring shouts often include line hymns which involve simple phrases that are easy to mimic and copy. These two musical structures reflect the communal and interactive approach because they get groups of people involved and immersed into the musical experience.

Bailey Hollins

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Bailey Hollins

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