Loading presentation...

Present Remotely

Send the link below via email or IM


Present to your audience

Start remote presentation

  • Invited audience members will follow you as you navigate and present
  • People invited to a presentation do not need a Prezi account
  • This link expires 10 minutes after you close the presentation
  • A maximum of 30 users can follow your presentation
  • Learn more about this feature in our knowledge base article

Do you really want to delete this prezi?

Neither you, nor the coeditors you shared it with will be able to recover it again.


African-American Music Family Tree

Brief overview of African-American music forms - Work Songs to Hip Hop - and their connections to and/or influences on each other. PLEASE NOTE: There is special emphasis on the BLUES for the purpose of this project.

L. Williams

on 10 November 2018

Comments (0)

Please log in to add your comment.

Report abuse

Transcript of African-American Music Family Tree


Rhythm & Blues (R&B)
Rhythm and Blues (R&B) originated in African-American communities in the late 1940s. The term was originally used by record companies to describe recordings marketed predominantly to urban African-Americans. With roots in the blues, R&B eventually developed into a distinctive sound by the 1950s and subsequently was the source of many Rock ‘n Roll hits covered by white artists.
Hip Hop
Hip hop music developed as a part of the hip hop culture, which is defined by at least four common elements: rapping (MC), breakdancing, Deejaying (scratching), and graffiti. Hip hop music is typically comprised of rapping (also singing) over stylized, rhythmic beats/tracks that often include samples and beefed up bass/drums.
Music of an African-American origin characterized by improvisation, syncopation, and usually a regular or forceful rhythm, emerging at the beginning of the 20th century. Brass and woodwind instruments and piano are particularly associated with jazz, although guitar and occasionally violin are also used; styles include dixieland, swing, bebop, cool, avant-garde, fusion, and smooth jazz.

Work Songs
Work songs developed during the enslavement of Africans in the new Americas. Sung while working to keep each other in sync and/or to lift spirits, these songs were passed on through oral tradition and were often formatted in rhythmic call and response form.
African Music Traditions
Follow the rotation to find the musical connections & influences
Gospel music is a fervent style of African-American evangelical religious singing that developed from other African-American music forms including spirituals, jazz, and the blues. Some gospel music can utilize choirs, piano or Hammond organ, drums, bass guitar, electric guitar, and tambourines (congregation). In comparison to religious hymns, gospel songs usually employ call and response, a refrain
and/or syncopated rhythms.
Minstrelsy songs were sung in racially-charged minstrel shows, which featured singing, dancing, music, comedic skits, and/or variety acts performed by white people in “blackface.” Eventually African-Americans began to perform in these shows bringing their musical traditions from slavery with them.

European Influences
merged with
resulting in the birth of
African-American Music Forms
Songs of a religious nature sung originally by slaves during captivity. Spirituals were a direct result of the forcible conversion to Christianity of enslaved Africans. Sometimes steeped in double meaning, these songs often spoke of eventual freedom through God
and His promised afterlife (heaven).
PBS History of The Blues

Son House, Lead Belly, & Bessie Smith
Blues' influence on other music genres including Rock 'n Roll
The BLUES is a style of music created by African-Americans in the rural south towards the end of the 19th century. Born from earlier African-American music traditions including work songs and minstrelsy, blues songs were usually of a melancholy nature about love and life. When African-Americans migrated to urban areas in the 1940s, the blues found a wider audience and morphed into different variations of itself.
What is the blues?
Early Blues Pioneers Footage
Mamie Smith
BB King
Blind Blake
W.C. Handy
Lead Belly
Bessie Smith
Robert Johnson
Heptatonic Blues Scale (7-note)
is a major scale with a
flat 3rd, 5th, and 7th
C Major Blues Scale
The blues is typically in a 12-bar sequence with a distinctive chord, lyrical, and melodic (
blues scale
) structure. In its most basic form, the blues is usually in 4/4 time signature and based on the I-IV-V chords of a key with an AAB pattern. In the key of C, the 12-bar chord pattern would be:
Typical Characteristics

Ragtime began as dance music and developed alongside the blues in the early 1890s in the bars and brothels of African-American communities in St. Louis and New Orleans. After eventually gaining respectability, ragtime became wildly popular as published sheet music for solo piano. Characteristics of ragtime including sophisticated syncopated rhythms (ragging) and embellished melodies.
Soul music originated in the 1950s/early 1960s. Rooted in gospel music, R&B, and jazz, SOUL music became a popular music for dancing and listening. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame describes soul as "music that arose out of the black experience in America through the transmutation of gospel and rhythm & blues into a form of funky, secular testifying."
William Grant Still
Symphony No. 1
"Moderato Assai"
Marvin Gaye
"Inner City Blues"
Examples of Blues Influence
in two differing pieces
Rap refers to rhythmically spoken chants or poetry often referred to as “flow.” Rap developed in the burrows of New York in the late 1970s/early 1980s. It can be performed over a beat, musical track, vocal beat box, or unaccompanied.
Blues Resources

PBS 12-Bar Blues

BLUES - Jazz in America Website

Smithsonian Folksways

Full-Length Documentaries
BBC Blues in America
Part 1:

Part 2:
History of the Blues
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
BBC Special Presentation:
When Britain Got the Blues
Nothing But the Blues
with Eric Clapton

Hexatonic Blues Scale (6-note)
is a minor pentatonic with
sharp 4th/ flat 5th
Full transcript