Culture, the thing that defines a group of people, is truly interesting. Culture is a phenomenon that is directly linked with the development of its respective group of people. Furthermore a people's culture is expressed through its works, whether it be in politics, literature, athletics, or art. Art is a unique form of expression because humans can directly play on three of the human senses, sight, taste, and hearing. Among the three senses, hearing is the primary sense. Humans rely heavily on hearing for communication. As a result, it is one of the easier senses to pleasure. Music is the art of sound that pleasures hearing and it has been in existence since humans have aurally communicated with each other. Music is one of the defining aspects of a culture because it is a direct expression of the people. .
Music is one of the main devices that a culture uses to entertain its people; but does it just stop at entertainment? This is a very prominent question when looking at the history of African American music. African American music has been called "( ) the musical Lingua Franca of the world [because] everyone listens to African American music and relates to it."(Ramsey). African American music is a style that has always been a popular and respected form of entertainment inside, as well as outside of the culture; so does that just mean that the people have only used their music as a form of entertainment? No, the African American people use their music as a means to advance their culture in an oppressive society. .
First, let us look at the history of the first era of African American music, "Slave music (1600s -1860s)." During the 1600s to the early 1700s, the majority of the music was mainly instrumental accompanied by dancing and chanting. A reason for this lack of actual song is how the slave trade broke up the African cultures and families. This division caused for a group of people who could not communicate with words, so the drums and banjo were " the most important instruments during this time.