Essay on History of African American Music

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Yasmin Gonzalez Mrs. Herrera Junior English 1 March 2012 History of African American Music “In less than a minute, the death wail went up out of every cabin in the Quarters, and Brother Ezekial began the death chant: Soon one morning, Death come knocking at my door…. Oh, my lord, What shall I do” (Walker 17)? Death was common for slaves. They routinely died from disease, beatings and accidents on the plantation, and they expressed their sorrow in the form of song. “I see death around the corner, gotta stay high while I survive, … Keep my finger on the trigger, no mercy in my eyes” (“Death Around”). Death is still common in the African American society. “Black males ages 15-19 die from homicide at 46 times the rate of their white…show more content…
During this time period, music began to evolve. Woog says, “These immigrants, naturally, brought their music. During the next decades, black popular music flourished, developing into several key genres and moving 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 (Woog 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 and Naden agree when saying: 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
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