Pop punk, roll-the-dice improvisation, break core, and hyper pop are just a few of the niche genres of music that are taking American youth by storm. However, few stop to think about how we got to this age of new genres being synthesized on an annual basis- where did this music truly come from?
The answer is ultimately pretty cut and dry- black people have created, either directly or indirectly, every single genre of American music. The American Music Family Tree1 starts with music of African American origin in its roots and extends out to more modern genres at its branches, all derived from its roots.
This is not a new notion, however. All the way back in 1893, African American people all over the nation were waking up to the notion that the music around them had been co-opted and repackaged into something “new” by white people. In the Cleaveland Gazette’s 18932 article “Dr. Dvorak On The Right Track” the editor cites that “about all the American Music we have is furnished by in these same “Negro” melodies.” In tandem with this claim, the author mentions Dvorak’s prophecy before it was actually called Dvorak’s prophecy. Dvorak claimed, in essence, that the experiment of American music (which he was tasked as a white person coming all the way from Europe to create) would not succeed unless it incorporated and gave due regard to the musical traditions around itself.
Unfortunately, today music is still being co-opted and not being given due regard by white musicians and listeners alike. In Vince Dixon’s 20113 article concerning this topic, tragic ironies are outlined like slave owners learning banjo from their slaves, or ragtime being considered offensive by white people before it was co-opted and turned repackaged into more popular and palatable genres for white people. We have this information now of a pattern of abuse in our American musical canon- and we have the means by which to recognize and change our patterns of behavior. As Dvorak said, the ongoing experiment of American music will fail if we don’t- whether or not we’re 130 years on from his prophecy.
“User Account: Readex.” User Account | Readex, infoweb.newsbank.com/apps/readex/doc?p=EANAAA&sort=YMD_date%3AA&fld-base-0=alltext&val-base-0=%22American+Music%22&val-database-0=&fld-database-0=database&fld-nav-0=YMD_date&val-nav-0=&docref=image%2Fv2%3A12B716FE88B82998%40EANAAA-12C2B6D224650FF8%402412618-12C106450CC13688%401-12DAC74F0C2567D0%40Dr.%2BDvorak%2BOn%2BThe%2BRight%2BTrack&firsthit=yes. Accessed 5 Oct. 2023.US/se/ID_No/429107/Product.aspx4