Cultural Activities: American Music

The United States is extremely well known for the unique musical styles that have originated within its borders for the past hundred or so years. One could potentially say that the incredible diversity found in the US is responsible for this musical innovation.

Listening to music, going to concerts and playing music is an extremely important part of American identity and as a new resident in this country, you may find yourself attracted to one musical “Scene” or another.

Below are only some of the original American musical genres.


Jazz is an incredibly diverse musical form that has many different categories, each containing its own unique characteristics and styles.

Arising from the confluence of African and European culture in the American South, Jazz quickly became one of the most popular musical forms in the world in the early and mid-20th century.

Famous musicians in the Jazz family include Louis Armstrong, Charles Mingus, Miles Davis and Benny Goodman.

Rock and Roll

A genre that became extremely popular in the 1950s, and still maintains great popularity today, is rock and roll. This form of music has almost as many sub-genres as jazz.

Rock and roll, and later rock music, had its origins in jazz and blues as well as strong influences from country music. It is very hard to establish specific characteristics in this genre of music simply because each rock and roll brand strives to be unique in its own right and they often form their own brand of music.

Famous musicians in rock and roll and rock music from the United States are Buddy Holly, Chuck Berry, the Grateful Dead and Elvis Presley.

Rap Music

Rap is a form of music that came out of urban areas in the early eighties and is probably the most popular musical form in the United States today. Rap music can often be identified by the unique vocal styling of its performers. Something of a combination between spoken word poetry, improvisation and complex rhythms make rap a rather unique kind of music.

Rap music is often lauded for dealing with interesting social problems within its lyrics and is considered to be a very serious art-form.