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View Full Version : the Drum-Less Evolution of Afro-American Music



zhao
17-09-2013, 05:32 PM
There is one peculiar thing which nearly all American music has in common - and the more one considers it, the more peculiar it becomes: an extensive emphasis on a unique rhythm, a rhythm very different from that to be found almost anywhere else in the world. It goes like this: Boom - Bap - Boom - Bap, with a kick drum on the 1 and 3, or all 4, a snare drum precisely on the 2 and 4, with nearly nothing in-between except maybe a high hat, and no major hits ever landing off the grid. This rhythm is called the "Duple" in music theory, and you can find variations of it driving all modern popular American music styles: Blues, Motown, Soul, Funk, Rock, Disco, Hiphop, House, Pop, and beyond.

How did North American modern music become so different? Why did the evolution of American rhythm take this unique path?

http://www.thisisafrica.me/music/detail/19998/no-drums-allowed-afro-rhythm-mutations-in-america

Trillhouse
18-09-2013, 02:01 AM
Interesting read. Although I was a little puzzled by your opening question as I thought the answer was kinda obvious. The lack drums or of any complex drum rhythms in Northern European folk and religious music of the time, coupled with a basic knowledge of the African slavery history in N.America would've been a pretty obvious signifier to the reason.
I guess those without an interest in jazz/soul/gospel/blues wouldn't necessarily be familiar with constricting influence of those puritanical Northern Europeans on the musical heritage of North America. But I had just thought it was one of those known things. Like capoeira being a martial art hidden in dance.

zhao
18-09-2013, 08:05 AM
I had just thought it was one of those known things.

i think reality is a lot closer to the vast majority of people never questioning why the music they listen to have a particular kind of beat, or how it came to be that way; and just taking it for granted, as a given, as if it was "natural".

Local Authority
21-09-2013, 03:43 PM
Very interesting. It reminds of a high school I went too, it was a seven day adventist and pentecostal school and all the staff and children were black. A lot of P.E focussed around dance and one in particular, the use of the body as a form of percussion, I can't remember what it was called but they would use different parts of the body as different hits whilst dancing.

Local Authority
21-09-2013, 03:56 PM
some beautiful music in that article too

zhao
15-03-2014, 01:36 PM
Very interesting. It reminds of a high school I went too, it was a seven day adventist and pentecostal school and all the staff and children were black. A lot of P.E focussed around dance and one in particular, the use of the body as a form of percussion, I can't remember what it was called but they would use different parts of the body as different hits whilst dancing.

nice! echoes of that historical legacy... part of all our lives


some beautiful music in that article too

:)

zhao
15-03-2014, 03:28 PM
also, when i gave a talk about this at a conference recently, this African musician and scholar added a somewhat darkly amusing element, which is that the Africans which were captured and sold as slaves were for sure not the best musicians in Africa at that time :) The African kings did not sell talented people. And also the people who allowed themselves to be captured were maybe over all not the brightest ones (hahahaha but keep in mind these are not my words)

Thus Afro American music was maybe partly born of a legacy of a re-construction of what little could be remembered of the music from home, by people who maybe did not know much about music to begin with.