Home » Africa » History of African American Music

History of African American Music

African American slaves TLD have much to bring along with them coming Into a new country, they had very little family as they were all separated and divided into different plantations. What they did bring with them was their musical traditions. Many people would refer to their type of music as slave songs, gospel music or spiritual music. Spiritual music had a variety of moods. “The slaves sang for many reasons. A song might be a lullaby, a work song, a mournful complaint, or a tune sung simply for pleasure” (Woos 13).

After all the deaths that were taken place In the south, It was a doleful measure for the slaves on the plantation and this gave them a way to let out all their sorrows, these songs had great meanings to them, sometimes their songs even had hidden messages in them. One song called “Wade in the Water” instructed escaping slaves to walk in the rivers and streams so that the water would wash away their smell and the master’s hounds wouldn’t be able to track them” (Hatch). When slavery ended In the south It was a new beginning for slaves.

Many slaves left their plantations and headed east to big cities, and some slaves stayed in the south and became sharecroppers. During this time period, music began to evolve. Woos says, “These immigrants, naturally, brought their music. During the next decades, black popular music flourished, developing into several key genres and paving steadily into mainstream American culture” (20). As they did, music began to grow Into three obvious styles: ragtime, blues, and Jazz. Starting this new era was ragtime.

As pianos became common In saloons, clubs, brothels and middle-class homes (Woos 22), ragtime became very popular. Pianos were one of the main instruments, although a piano could have also been accompanied by bongo drums or an acoustic guitar. The ambiance of this genre is generally expressed in a fluent and joyful way. Another type of music of this exquisite age was blues and It wasn’t a secret. Blue Ragtime wasn’t the only music to come from gospel. Around the turn of the 20th century, a different sound was drifting out of the Mississippi Valley and out of Tin Pan Alley.

It would overtake rag in popularity and endurance, … It was associated with the haunting heartaches of life and thus came to be called the blues. Ragtime and blues were alike in many ways but different in many others. Blues was genuinely emotional; it had a darker side to it. Singing was the key tool to blues; it wasn’t so much the type of instruments that were used but more of the beats that ere produced. These songs were cries of people who had nothing and expected nothing. Singers would mourn about losing Jobs, homes, and friends, but above all, losing sweethearts (Blue and Andean).

However, not all songs were gloomy; there were a handful of songs that were surprisingly optimistic. People would sing about losing their Jobs or losing someone dear to them, while someone else would sing about getting on a train and finding a new Job and finding a better looking girl/guy. A man by the name of William Christopher Handy sung both; he called himself the Father of Blues. According to Woos “His compositions including the wildly popular “Memphis Blues” and “SST. Louis Blues,” smoothed the music’s rough edges, making it more appealing to a wide audience” (26).

One more style of music in this era was Jazz. Many people would agree that Jazz was originated in New Orleans. Reason being, this city advanced further, musically, than any other city in the United States, this type of music could have only flourished there (Blue and Andean). Jazz grew into the most boundless genre. This style went into a greater extent of improvising which other genres didn’t have. It also had many efferent emotions throughout its music that varied from love songs to calm and relaxing songs to depressing songs to uplifting and high energy songs.

Furthermore, in New Orleans, there was quite a mixture of races. These races all had their own flavor of music, which would merge together. At this time, the people of New Orleans hailed from many different cultures. As new settlers arrived in New Orleans, musical traditions from all over the world began to unite. African American musicians merged European musical tradition with such music as blues, ragtime, and marching band to create a new style of music-?Jazz. “A History’) But as time went by and Jazz changed so did the size of groups.

They weren’t bands of five anymore but a number of eleven or more. Size did matter because Jazz now had a difference in style. Woos says, “Large groups could not improvise simultaneously, as Dixieland bands did, without creating chaos” (36). In 1929, the economy crashed causing a great depression. Money was tight so people weren’t able to go to their favorite nightclub or buy a new record. Not until swing bands came along, people could actually afford to take a night out and enjoy themselves. The great depression was a hard time for these people but they found a way to happiness. As the great depression drags on, Jazz comes as close as it has ever come to being America’s popular music, providing entertainment and escape for a people down on their luck” (“Swing”). Late sass and early sass. At this point in history the United States was coming upon a shift right before World War II, large populations of blacks in the south were moving into cities in the Midwest and West. Honest explains, “This migration created a young, urban black audience with a growing taste for up-tempo dance music”.

Cite This Work

To export a reference to this essay please select a referencing style below:

Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.

Leave a Comment