After the emancipation of African Americans, there was an effort for further integration in society academically and culturally, including music. African Americans now had more opportunities share spaces with different kinds of musicians and acquire professional training by attending American colleges and studying different types of music, specifically classical. Although this kind of music had existed in America in the early 19th century, it became more popular in black communities in the 20th century. Through conservatory music training African Americans became familiar and started to contribute to classical music through opera, etude symphonic essays, concerto, and more. Classical music is a genre or style of music that did not originate from black people but grew in appreciation and contribution to the field by black people over time.

Traits of the Genre

 This genre of music can be described as technical and precise as musical pieces are intended to be followed or played exactly as they are written instead of improvised as in maybe jazz. A classical music piece may include the accompanying instruments or individuals: string, brass, woodwind instruments, percussion, musicians, and composers. These sections would work in collaboration to perform pieces of concerto, cantata, opera, and sonata. Opera was a widely used among African American story as it served as way to share folklore stories through vocal arrangements. Classical music has well established European techniques due to its cultural origin, one being homophonic melody in which a single melody is played by every instrument simultaneously.

Social Implications, Commodification, & Prominent Performers

The introduction of classical music being performed and composed by black people was not accepted by White America because it was considered to be strictly their music. But socially, this genre had a positive effect on the African American community as it was seen as uplifting. Even with struggle for acceptance, some black composers were able to become educated in music and become well known musicians by travelling. Well renowned musicians were also permitted to gain membership into musical societies or organizations such as BMI and ASCAP which served as legal protection of their music. With these some having their rights over music and able to travel and publish musical pieces, black people were able to participate in the financial compensation and commodification of their efforts. Some important performers and composers include David Baker, Alvin Singleton, Samuel Coleridge Taylor, Ulysses Kay, and Julia Perry. David Baker has contributed immensely to the genre of jazz and classical music writing more than two thousand compositions ranging in style from jazz scores to classical forms. These classical forms include the solo sonata, symphony, choral music, art song, cantata ontario, and chamber music. Baker is known for incorporating elements of jazz with more modern/contemporary techniques of music composition, pop, electronic, and gospel music.

In conclusion, classical music is historically one of the most endured genres of music as it has persisted through centuries with significant and almost unwavering appreciation. It has influenced more recently developed genres including rock, pop, and also become sampled for songs in hip hop. Black people have made a significant impact on this field of music introducing the traditional elements of this genre in new ways by incorporating sounds of urban Black America in hopes of yielding a Black nationalist style. 

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Amirah Anderson

Amirah Anderson

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