Play your favorite song. While listening pay attention to the elements of the music. The beat, the rhythm, the tone, the genre. Although you may not recognize it most of the music today  today was impacted by African music. 

Africa’s has impacted music all around the world. The impact of African music started with the diaspora of African people during slavery. This movement of Africans across the world formed different music styles across the globe. African music influence genre’s such as jazz, gospel, R&B, hip-hop, and more. Therefore, with out African music wouldn’t be how it is today. 

Traditional African Music

The traditional music of Africa is expansive due to the continent’s magnitude of  regions, countries, and cultural communities. African music comes in many different varieties but there are common elements within cultures such as the instruments used and the symbolism of the music. 

The Sounds We Hear:
Musical Instruments


The Djembe drum is a spiritually and ritually significant drum in Africa. The drum is traditionally used for celebrations such as,  weddings, baptism, and sickness. The djembe makes three basic sounds base, tone, and slap. The base sound is low pitched,  tone sound is medium pitched, and the slap sound is high pitched. The drum was used during slavery to communicate.

Rhythm Bones

The bones are known as one of the oldest instruments in the world. Sometimes known as clappers. The bones became well known in America from the Irish and were commonly used during the Black Face minstrel shows. 


The banjo was formed in the Caribbean. The banjo traveled up to North America and became popular in the United States through slavery. The banjo has a circular frame accompanied by strings stretched over the center. The banjo produces a variety of sounds through the vibration of plucking the strings.


The washboard is a percussion instrument  that was formed from the traditional African music practice known as hamboning. Hamboning was brought from Africa to America through the slave trade. The washboard was originally used to wash clothes, but soon became a rhythm instrument. 



The kora is a West African instrument. It is similar to the American harp. It has 12 strings and a large center body made out of dried calabash. 


The tambourine is a percusion instrument. The origin of the tambourine is unknown, but some sources says it came from West Africa. It is made out of a center with metal rings on the outer edge that produce a rattling sound. 


A Different World:
Music Styles and Genres

Traditional African music has contributed to the evolution of different music styles. The movement of African’s through the slave trade has allowed for development of different musical practices. Slaves used their own musical styles and began to combines them with European style to produce individual distinctive styles and genres. 


Ragtime music was developed in the 19th century through slavery. It was formed through degrading minstrel shows.  music and traditional cakewalk tunes. It was influenced by the use of the Banjo and is known for its syncopated (ragged) off-beat rhythms. Blues used syncopation and call-and response patterns to produce a deep tonality. 

Call and Response

This music styles originates in traditional African culture. This musical form is used to promote participation and commonly used in spiritual rituals, funerals, weddings, civil gathering. During slavery, this style became popular for negro spirituals. 


This music style stems from call and response. It was commonly practiced by slaves for their religious gatherings. One participant would set the tone for the song while surrounding participants move in and circle,  stomp, and clap. 


Blues comes from traditional folk music. Blues was created by African American in the 20th century and used many musical styles from the 19th century. Blues is a heavily lyrical from of music. African American Composers used their lyrics to describe deep emotions and hidden meanings of oppression and racism. Blues used syncopation and call and response rhythms to produce a deep tonality.  


Out With The Old in With The New:
Modern Music Genres

Modern Music Genres

3 Videos
Tab #1

R&B stems from traditonal blues music. Rhytm and Blues became popular and influenced other styles such as pop, disco, and funk. 

In Conclusion....

The roots of African Music are important in understanding the music we listen to everyday. African music has came a long way and has made a global impact on music. The roots of African music are continuously look down on and erased from history due to continuous oppression and culture appropriation. Therefore, it is important to understand the significant impact African people have in the realm of music. 

What's your password?

Login to your account

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website.