Black music

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Black music is music created, produced, or inspired by black people, people of African descent, including African music traditions and African popular music as well as the music genres of the African diaspora, including Caribbean music, Latin music, Brazilian music and African-American music. These genres include spiritual,[1] gospel, rumba, blues,[2] bomba, rock and roll, rock, jazz, salsa, R&B, samba, calypso, soul, cumbia, funk, ska, reggae,[3] dub reggae, house, Detroit techno, hip hop, pop, gqom, afrobeat, and others.

Black music in Britain received its first serious journalistic coverage in Black Music magazine (1973–1984).


Many genres of music originate from communities that have visible roots in Africa. In North America, it was a way that the early slaves could express themselves and communicate when they were being forcibly relocated and when there were restrictions on what cultural activities they could pursue. In a time where their world was being turned upside down, music served as an escape and form of communication/expression for early black communities. The ability of music to act as a binding factor provides all cultures with a strong sense of connectivity. In this sense, black music does not just encompass sounds of the U.S. black experience but also a global black experience that stretches from Africa to Americas. The sounds of the black diaspora represent an almagamation of different black experiences. It uplifts the sense of community that is built under the black identity, while also representing the complexities that exist within blackness due to differences in geography, nationality, gender, class, and sex.

Black music is grounded in this idea of The Black Atlantic in which there not only exists a black diaspora but a sonic diaspora that is rooted in African rhythms and drumbeats.[4] Contained within this diasporic rhythm is both the joy and trauma that accompanies a global black experience that has been shaped by the Atlantic slave trade and the systems of oppression that were created as a result of it. Sounds of the diaspora have built spatial relationships that have in some sense united a black diasporic people. From a transnational perspective, black music transcends borders and is an avenue for black people across the globe to express themselves and take agency over their own black experiences.

The term for many coming from places of "black" origin can be perceived in a derogatory manner by cultures who see the term as a blurring of lines which ignores the true roots of certain peoples and their specific traditions. To refer to musical genres with strong African-American influence, such as hip hop music, is very limited in scope and is not adopted by academic institutions as a true category.


See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Negro Spiritual Singers". New Deal Network. Retrieved 31 January 2020.
  2. ^ Kunzler's dictionary of jazz provides two separate entries: "blues", and the "blues form", a widespread musical form (p. 131). Kunzler, Martin (1988). Jazz-Lexicon. Hamburg: Rowohlt Taschenbuch Verlag.
  3. ^ Stephen Davis. "Reggae." Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online. Oxford University Press. Web.16. 30 January 2020.
  4. ^ Gilroy, Paul (1993). The Black Atlantic: Modernity and Double Consciousness.
  5. ^ Pecknold, D. (Ed.). (2013). Hidden in the mix: the African American presence in country music. Duke University Press.

Further reading[edit]

  • Spencer, Jon Michael. Black hymnody: a hymnological history of the African-American church (1992)