Music in Both African & African American Communities
By: Deja Johnson

Music has had an impact on people since the beginning of time. Music is used as a form of expression and art. People use music to express when they are happy, sad, mad, etc. Music has had a prominent influence in both African, and African American Communities. Music has always been around in African communities as Africans use music to celebrate the passing down of traditions from one generation to another. Africans also use music for religious ceremonies and rituals like introducing someone of power like Kings and Queens. In African American communities music was first used in slavery as the slaves used music as way to uplift one another during such hardships. During such time African Americans also used music as a form of hope. In present day African American communities music is used to often build community unity and or tell stories of hardships and success. In both African and African American communities the role music is used to bring together everyone and build unity among everyone.

In both African and African American communities music is created, preformed, and experienced in similar ways. In both communities people can be found singing, dancing, and playing instruments. In Africa, musical instruments were created using items from nature like wood, horns and animal skin. As technology progressed they created instruments from metal. In African American communities it was common for brass instruments to used to create music. In both communities music is created using ones hands like clapping or slapping the chest, and stomping ones feet to create a rhythmic sound when all done together. Music was often created using the body because slaves were banned from using instruments as slaves owners thought they would incite a rebellion. 

Understanding Timbre

Timbre can be described as the tone quality of music. Timbre allows people to recognize the distinction between instruments, and or voices although the same note is being played or sung. Europeans did not like the sound of timbre as they felt it sounded strange. Timbre is important in both African and African American communities because it gives music a tone and characteristics. European music did not use timbre or much instruments in their music as they did not agree with different distinct sounds in music. 

Musical Techniques

African and African American music have many similarities as African American music derived from African culture. The most common music techniques found in both African and African American music are Call  & Response and Polyrhythm. The Call & Response technique is used as a form of engagement with the performers and the crowd. The Polyrhythm technique can be described as the layering of rhythms. Polyrhythm makes songs easier to memorize and create dances to.