Singapore Raffles Music College.

Influence of African Music on Contemporary Music

Singapore Raffles Music College.
30 Dec 2022


There is no shortage of musical icons to choose from when it comes to gaining an appreciation for the influence of African music on contemporary music. It is, in fact, impossible to discuss the history of music without first investigating the roots of black music and the influence it has had on the music culture worldwide. 

For people who enjoy listening to music in the modern era, the pervasive impact of black music can be felt in each and every chord and lyric. Being a music enthusiast or an aspiring musician from Singapore or anywhere in the world, it is incumbent upon you to learn about one of its origins; African music. 

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How African Music Has Influenced Contemporary Music Over Time?

Black music not only adds value to what it means to be black but also always reflects what black folks have been through. Not only are blacks” daily struggles, victories, hopes, and failures carefully and methodically written down in history books, but they are also recorded in the music and lyrics of the time.

Slave owners often coerced their black slaves into converting to Christianity. As a result, a new style of music called “Negro spiritual” was born, combining African and Christian music from Europe.

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African music, Songs Of Struggle And Spirit

Spirituals weren’t just a way for people to get their feelings out; they were also used as secret language to plot escapes and uprisings. Spirituals and gospel music were used to show how black people were still mistreated a hundred years after being freed. Most of the time, music historians consider Negro spirituals to be folk music, which, by its very definition, is required to tell a story. This requirement is a direct legacy of the African oral tradition.

For centuries, it has been a significant influence on music all over the world. It began with the exportation of millions of Africans to different parts of the world for the purpose of the slave trade. This trend continued as people traveled to and from Africa throughout the 20th and 21st centuries. Music in every region of the world wouldn’t be what it is today if it weren’t for Africa and the diaspora of Africans. The authenticity of this music is an element that all the premier musicians try to incorporate in their own music, of course, in various forms. 

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African Music And the Modern World

Africa is home to a wide range of musical styles that don’t stop at the borders of countries. Some of them, like Nigerian fuji and Ghanaian highlife, which were mixed with other styles to make the popular Afrobeat genre, have complex rhythms and percussion that you can also hear in funk and jazz. Others, like the Afrobeat genre itself, were influenced by other musical styles. 

African music has a big effect that goes far beyond the continent and beyond traditional African music. Since the dawn of time, it has been influencing musicians all around the world through music. For aspiring musicians, learning about the history of African music is a major developmental step they must take. 

As people moved to and from Africa in the 20th and 21st centuries, it persisted throughout those centuries. The transformation is still happening today, even though the internet has shrunk the world and more people are hearing music from up-and-coming African artists. Music worldwide wouldn’t be what it is now if it weren’t for Africa and the diaspora of Africans living in other parts of the world.


Key Takeaways

African music is the source of many different kinds of music from all over the world, including samba, salsa, rhumba, gospel, hip-hop, reggae, and R&B. It doesn’t matter what genre of music you listen to—ska, reggae, country, or rock—you can always hear traces of Africa in the background somewhere. However, it is solely upon you to understand its significance and incorporate it into your own style of music. 


Library of Congress. “African American Spirituals.” The Library of Congress, 2015,

Dressman, Mac. “A Cultural Crescendo: The Black Origins of American Music.” The Hoya, 24 Mar. 2017,