Folk Music Post: “The transfer of ritualistic music to folk music”

Jiana Barnes & Jesénia Jackson

African American folk music began in Africa long before Africans were enslaved and transported to America for free labor. This music uses instruments such as banjos, drums, and even body parts to create beats.

These beats were used for ceremonial songs in Africa. Once slaves arrived in America they adapted to their surroundings to survive. With this came the adaptation of their music. Singing was no longer for ceremonial use, but now to motivate each other while working. The use of group singing and chanting was used in work songs.

Here is a list of several popular Black Folk Songs:


The musical heritage of Africa was passed down not only through the forceful transportation of enslaved Africans to America, but all the way to the black home after the abolishment of slavery. In the early 1900s, the essence of black folk music shifted with commercial interests. As European Americans started to become interested in black folk music as an art form they began to copy and commodify it to fit their taste. This alteration changed the sound and the narrative.

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