Black Music History

One world I Diverse PLaces I Unique Sounds

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Black Music History celebrates the global influence of music of the African Diaspora.

May 17, 2020

What do you mean by Secular?

‘Secular’ comes from the Latin ‘saeculum' meaning, a period of time (an age or era). This is partly where we get the prayerful phrase, “world without end” or “forever and ever”. Later, it would often refer to the ‘world out there’ separate f...

March 23, 2020

"It's not the notes you play, it's the notes you don't play."

Miles Davis

I know some were expecting broader perspectives on secular music as that topic was next in my series. That will come soon but, we have all been affected by the current crisis and it would be odd n...

March 17, 2020

It is well-known that black gospel music shares historical roots with pop music such as R & B, Jazz, Blues, Rock n Roll, etc. Yet among the black Christian community (across the Diaspora or 'black Atlantic' to use Paul Gilroy’s term), the phenomenon of musicians and si...

March 10, 2020

The black gospel choir is arguably the most internationally recognised musical ‘offspring’ of black sacred music. In our so-called ‘secular’ society of the West, religion is supposedly side-lined and God is no longer meant to be a topic of social discourse (according t...

February 17, 2019

Respect is often the reward of dignity. 

I’ve been thinking lately about the topical debate around the fashion label, Gucci. The fact that one of their items of clothing brought back the collective cultural memory of black face and the minstrel shows. 

It reminded me tha...

February 10, 2019

Donald Walbridge Shirley (29 January 1927 - 6 April 2013).⁣

I recently went to see the movie Green Book. If you haven’t seen it, don’t worry there aren’t any spoilers here - this isn’t a review of the film. Even though Dr Shirley’s family have slammed the film as a ‘...

February 3, 2019

Africans are unique in the contributions they have made to the history of music in the west. Although I think its an over simplification, we are told by music historians that where as Europeans have been responsible for harmony it is the African influence that has led...

January 27, 2019

George Polgreen Bridgetower: An African Prodigy in England 1789-1860.
An outstanding violinist. Best known for his association with Ludwig van Beethoven, who wrote the piece Kreutzer Sonata just for him to play in 1803 (the full title was Sonata composed for the Mul...

January 20, 2019

I post online and I blog because I care about this music. I’m not an expert, but I genuinely want people to be informed about the rich and broad heritage of black music. I am educating myself and at the same time I am educating others. 

I know it's provocative, but I as...

January 13, 2019

"Our story begins (as it must) in the middle of things”. Those are the first words written in The Oxford History of Western European Music by Richard Taruskin. For me, the story of black music begins in much the same way.

Very few accounts about the history of music sta...

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About Black Music History

Matthew Williams MA, PGCE, LLB is a PhD research student at the University of Bristol. He began this initiative in February 2017 in order to aid his studies. It has since blossomed with an online following on Instagram of over 15,000 followers. He continues to document on social media when he is not studying or working.


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Based in UK