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2 Is Groove African?

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Chapter Summary

The suggestion that Western popular music derives at least some of its characteristics from African musical practices and traditions has penetrated deeply into writing and thinking about popular music. In its widely diffused, commonsense version it amounts to the view that early Western popular music was a fusion between African rhythm and European harmony. Richard A. Waterman identifies a number of African features in American music, all of which are rhythm-related, and uses the term 'hot rhythm' to describe them. The issue of worksongs introduces to the discussion the question of class divisions amongst black Americans, a factor that is missing in the accounts of the likes of Olly Wilson and Samuel A. Floyd, Jr. The idea that African music is inherently more rhythmic than European music is a very pervasive one which runs through many of the classic studies of African music.

Keywords: African music; American music; black Americans; Olly Wilson; Richard A. Waterman; Samuel A. Floyd Jr; Western popular music



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