The Evolution Of African Music

The Banjo


Thesis: The Banjo originated many genres and instruments that we see today.
The Banjo and Djemebe are two instruments that initiated different genres of music.
  • The Banjo was an instrument that was made by African people. This instrument came from Gambia in the early 1600’s (1620). Slaves brought these instruments during the transatlantic slave trade. The Banjar was the earliest form of the Banjo. Slaves were forced to use these instruments to reduce pregnancy and morality. This instrument gave the slaved people the opportunity express their emotions and what they were going through. This was the only thing the slaves were able to bring across the Atlantic which meant so much to them. This instrument has strings that are very light and it is made with logs covered in sheep skin. 

  • This instrument was used in the eighteenth century but became heavily recognized in the United States during the nineteenth century and was used in minstrel shows. White people would use this instrument during their shows to mock black people. White people would also paint their faces black to make fun of Black people and their culture as well. When the Banjo became popular the instrument received a negative connotation. Whites gave the instrument a bad reputation because they wanted Black people to stop using the instrument so they could get credit for creating the instrument. This instrument formed the genre of Country music.

Conclusion: The banjo is the reason for the great music we have today. Without the banjo music would not exist. 

Another prominent instrument used during this time period was the Djembe. This instrument was played with your bare hands and made from goat skin. The Djembe is West Africa’s best known instrument. The instrument originated from Mali and different tribes would play this instrument. This instrument is roughly 800 years old and belongs in the percussion family. This instrument is typically played at different events such as weddings, parties, and gatherings. The name if this instrument Djembe comes from a saying “Anke dje, anke be” which means everything come together for peace. This instrument is used for ritual and spiritual purposes. This instrument was initially used by musicians for story telling but that changed.

In all the banjo and djembe are two prominent instruments that have both evolved into common known instruments such as the drum and guitar. 

What's your password?

Login to your account

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