Most of the music genres that originated in the United States are heavily influenced by Native American, European, and African music.1 Top American music genres such as pop, rock, hip hop, country, and jazz have reached global popularity and are often covered in detail in numerous articles by music experts and followers of music culture across the world. So, this article will introduce you to some other interesting music genres that originated in the United States that may be new to you.
Table of Contents
Also known as alt-country or alternative country, Americana is an umbrella term that includes all types of American roots music. It’s a vast genre that includes bluegrass, folk music, and traditional country music, mixed with other popular American music genres such as blues, rock, and jazz. Americana stands out as an individual genre for retaining its raw, authentic, unprocessed quality of sound that is not overly tampered with music production techniques like the other American music genres that dominate the music industry today.1
Boogaloo or Bugalú
Boogaloo music is rooted in Spanish music styles such as mambo and Latin jazz, mixed with African American styles of doo-wop, R&B, and soul.1 Boogaloo’s groovy Latin beats first emerged in the Spanish communities of New York City in the 1960s. Although it remained popular for a short period of time and was replaced by salsa music, it has retained its popularity in Cali, Colombia. The genre is kept alive by the city’s dancing style, and the songs are sped up to 33 to 45 RPM to match the speed of the dancers’ moves.2
Commonly known as waila music,1 chicken scratch is another genre with Native American roots that is especially meant for social dancing and is featured at the Annual Waila Festival in Tucson.3 In fact, the term waila is derived from the Spanish word bailar1 or baile, which means to dance and is performed by a group moving in a counterclockwise direction on the dance floor. The music was developed by the Tohono O’odham people, also known as Papago, of southwest Arizona. Chicken scratch music is a blend of Southwestern, Mexican, and European influences. The music is instrumental and has a strong rhythm section. Instruments such as accordion polkas, waltzes, schottisch, Mexican cumbias and mazurcas, electric guitar, and saxophone are a common part of the waila ensemble.1
Zydeco is a musical genre that originated in southern Louisiana, the United States, and is rooted in French, African American, and Afro-Caribbean music, which was widely popular in the 1980s. The music was created by people of African heritage who were a part of the Louisianan French culture.4 The resulting music was a combination of new rhythm and blues1 that mainly featured the accordion along with other instruments such as the guitar, accordion, violin, washboard, electric guitar, electric bass, saxophone, and keyboards.4
1. World Music Central. (2022, April 8). American roots music | World Music Central. Retrieved August 7, 2022, from https://worldmusiccentral.org/world-music-resources/musician-biographies/american-music/
2. Boogaloo. (2022, February 8). New World Encyclopedia, . Retrieved 12:28, August 7, 2022 from https://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/p/index.php?title=Boogaloo&oldid=1064544.
3. The Annual Waila Festival. (n.d.). Library of Congress. Retrieved August 7, 2022, from https://www.americaslibrary.gov/es/az/es_az_waila_1.html
4. zydeco | music. (n.d.). Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved August 7, 2022, from https://www.britannica.com/art/zydeco