FOLK MUSIC-The Beginning

What is folk music?

African-American folk music was the first type of music created by African Americans. It was a combination of African elements and American elements created by slaves. Folk music was all about using/making the most of what you had. That can be seen with the elements of folk music. Folk music is the root of all American music and connotates struggle, human rights, empowerment, and perserverance.


djembe-Africans used the djembe to create African American folk music by using it as an instrument to perform the rhythms that they created. Furthermore, the unique sound of the djembe helped to form the genre of African American folk music by creating for it a defining musical element that one could only associate with this genre of music.

pattin juba-Africans used the genre of music, Patting Juba, to create African American folk music by using it to tell unique stories about their lives in a musical way. The formation of ones culture depends on the events, day to day activities, and traditions that a group of people create. Through Patting Juba, one of the musical aspects of this culture was created.

banjo-Africans used the banjo to create African American folk music by  creating a form of one of the first string instruments and using this uniquely sounding instrument to play different chords and melodies that could accompany the rhythms of more percussive aspects of the music, like drumming, or to play songs on its own.

ring shout-The dancers would move in a counter clockwise direction while dancing. They would clap their hands and stomp their feet.

work songs-Work songs were an essential type of music in regards to African American folk music. It was common for Africans and African slaves to sing while they were working in order to get them through the day. Singing these songs also assisted in the coordination and togetherness for African slaves to work at the same pace.

wash board- The slaves were not allowed to have drums because the masters were afraid of communication between slaves that they thought would result in an uprising. They created the washboard as a replacement for the drums when they had nothing else.

call and response-Africans used call and response to create African American folk music by establishing a uniquely interactive way to share music with other members of their culture. This musical element of call and response allowed Africans to connect their stories with one another and in turn, contributed to the creation of the culture of African American folk music as a whole.


Pattin Juba


Ring Shout

Work Songs


Call & Response Examples

Lasting Legacy

As I previously stated, Folk music is the root of all American music. All music today has elements of folk music in some way or another. Folk music would go on to transform into R&B, Hip Hop, Blues, and many other genres.

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