The Impact of African Music

African Music and its Effects on the Delivery Style of Black Music


 The origin of African American culture can be traced back to Africa and African people. One of the most important aspects of both cultures is music. Although both groups of people have many different types of music, something they have in common is storytelling. The African oral tradition of story telling through music is largely responsible for the African American singing style of delivery. 

African Performance Style

African American Performance Style

African Music

When people of African descent tell their stories through performance, they use instruments, emotions, and movements to help the audience comprehend the true meaning of the story. Instruments like the Djembe and the West African Kora are widely used in the African culture to communicate to the people.


The Djembe is significant instrument that is played at weddings, parties, and celebrations. It is also used to heal people when sick. This drum is made out of one piece of wood and goat skin on top. The instrument has three individual sounds: base, tone, and slap. It is a staple for African people because it is used to tell ancestral stories.

West African Kora: 

The West African Kora is made out of a dried calabash, capped with cow skin, and 21 or 22 strings on the neck that goes all the way through the instrument. It is native to the Mandinka people who live in Gambia, Senegal, Mali, Guinea, and Guinea Bissau. The instrument is used by the West African culture to convey history through song.  

African American Music

The African American performance style of delivery can be described as soulful, passionate, emotional, and inspiring. Burnim and Maultsby describe performance in Black culture as a symbol of vitality and a sense of aliveness (pg. 40). The performance style of delivery uses the concept of pathos to reach the audience. The use of movement and passion allows for the crowd to enjoy the performance physically and emotionally. In comparison, the performances of white people lack syncopation and a soulful delivery/timbre.

Example of Black Performance

Example of White Performance

I believe that African American people perform music with such emotion, because we have never embraced music without passion. From our African roots to now, black people have used music as a form of communication and expression. During slavery, music was used to bring people together and exchange information without the enslavers knowing. Throughout the Civil Rights Era music played an important part during marches and protest to symbolize community. To this very day music acts as the glue that holds the Black community together.


Storytelling traveled from Africa to North America through music via slave ships. The similar style of performance has connected African Americans and Africans emotionally and physically. Enslaved Africans continued the tradition of communicating through music, thus resulting in the development of the African American performance style of delivery throughout the years.

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