What would American music look like without African-American slaves?

With immigration from so many places, American traditions are a melting pot of many countries and cultures. What floats to the top is quite arbitrary. If you re-start history at some point, say, Hitler dies, Stalin dies, Versailles is different, etc., these events should have no impact on music. But simply from the butterfly effect, the forms of music that form the mainstream can be different. What happened as recording technology suddenly modernized in the fifties and sixties would define the dominant elements of composition. Very much comes from the contributions of a few people like Chuck Berry, Buddy Holly, Elvis Presley. Any slight variation changes the direction of music in that period. Then there is the jump to Britain and back. After all, if Glenn Miller survived, he would be 70 in 1974.
 
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Seeing as the most widely popular genres today come from african-american roots, music would be much different. Take, say, industrial metal, something one wouldnt really associate with jazz. Well, jazz influenced rock, which influenced all types of metal. And jazz started in the african-american communities of the deep south. So if you think about it, marilyn manson is a distant relative of satchmo.
 
And jazz started in the african-american communities of the deep south.
Unlike niche music that used the zydeco, dulcimer, or improvised devices, jazz used mainstream instruments. At the same time, commercial popular composers like Irving Berlin, George Gershwin, Cole Porter, etc., were considered mainstream American. Big bands took music into a more abbreviated selection of instruments. So, could there have been a different type of music that takes the place of jazz?
 
Zydeco is a style of Cajun music, not an instrument.
Personally, I like folk, old style Cajun,and jazz. Modern country has evolved into a variation of rock and folk. I would expect more European influence and less African influence. The introduction of African styles would be delayed in Western music styles, to our detriment.
 
Zydeco is a style of Cajun music, not an instrument.
Personally, I like folk, old style Cajun,and jazz. Modern country has evolved into a variation of rock and folk. I would expect more European influence and less African influence. The introduction of African styles would be delayed in Western music styles, to our detriment.
Those African styles used European insturments, music notation, had influence from classifcal music. That type of music doesn't somehow develop in Africa without Europeans.
 
I tend to believe the course of American music was framed by sets of very fragile elements of contribution that could easily have changed. Jazz and Blues entered mainstream entertainment while other elements of folk music and Cajun zydeco stayed in the background. I also think that prohibition was a factor, as entertainment venues relaxed restrictions based on gender and race for the common cause of securing bootleg liquor. Also, silent movies from the twenties utilized piano players with sheet music, creating a supply of compositions to match action scenes. The lack of slavery reduces the number of African immigrants, but does not drop it to zero. What it does eliminate is the collection of spirituals and songs of toil. Consider the descendents of slaves freed before the U.S. was established. Consider immigrants from other parts of the world who might fill the labor gap taken by slaves and ex-slaves. You might see trained and educated Africans bringing in their styles directly.
 
Nobody seems to mention another form of purely American music: country-western. One may argue that it has elements of the folk-jazz movements, but it is clearly less influenced by African-American factors. In recent decades, it has picked up more elements closer to rock and roll. But in the seventies and eighties, it remained distinct, American, and found little international popularity. Rock and roll, by contrast, had the spark that went worldwide. Without question, the African-American contribution was critical, but in the fifties, recording technology was growing and the market was there for a sudden change. Given the spark came from a mere handful of contributors, consider what alternatives might have been around with less African-American contribution.
 
Maybe something like rock and roll develops from a melange of C&W, norteno and Caribbean/Ska/Reggae. No Black Americans but the influence of Blacks in the Caribbean could still be a factor.
 
Nobody seems to mention another form of purely American music: country-western. One may argue that it has elements of the folk-jazz movements, but it is clearly less influenced by African-American factors. In recent decades, it has picked up more elements closer to rock and roll. But in the seventies and eighties, it remained distinct, American, and found little international popularity
Less influenced, yes, but the banjo traces its origin to West Africa and its association with the South (and West) comes from plantation slaves.
 
Bigger influence from Latin american music?

(but I guess that in turn begs the question how much influence did African slaves have on Latin american musical development!)
Well depend on the country, but the answer is A lot, the only music that can say don't have any trace of África influence is the Andean Music


Edit: of the More popular generes, there is also Mapuche's music, but these is a lot less popular and mostly un know outside Chile and Argentina

 
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Nobody seems to mention another form of purely American music: country-western. One may argue that it has elements of the folk-jazz movements, but it is clearly less influenced by African-American factors. In recent decades, it has picked up more elements closer to rock and roll. But in the seventies and eighties, it remained distinct, American, and found little international popularity. Rock and roll, by contrast, had the spark that went worldwide. Without question, the African-American contribution was critical, but in the fifties, recording technology was growing and the market was there for a sudden change. Given the spark came from a mere handful of contributors, consider what alternatives might have been around with less African-American contribution.
Country-western have clear African influence, from blues, Bluegrass and African Gospel, in part because a important contingent of Cowboys were black, in fact 1 in 4 Cowboys were black,
https://www.azcentral.com/story/news/local/arizona-history/2019/03/17/black-cowboys-were-common-old-west/3180296002/,
So say that there is little influence of África music traditions in Country is a wrong premise given the facts we know.
 
Nobody seems to mention another form of purely American music: country-western. One may argue that it has elements of the folk-jazz movements, but it is clearly less influenced by African-American factors.
"Clearly" because it's heavily associated with white people and has been for a long time. Somebody else mentioned the banjo, but West African influence on country music goes considerably deeper than the origin of a particular instrument. Blue notes are absolutely ubiquitous in the genre, and blues scales aren't uncommon. There's a kind of vocal melisma that's practically required in country (and if anything more common in older recordings) which is quite similar to what you might hear in gospel and R&B, and pretty dissimilar to what you hear in Western European music before the spread of jazz (not to mention minstrel songs). And this is just limiting ourselves to melody.

As @cmakk1012 said, influence from musical traditions of West African origin became widespread in mainstream American music as far back as the 1840's, and certainly earlier in the South. American music is fundamentally syncretic to the point where most of these things aren't generally thought of as "African" or "European", but as "American".
 
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