Black Culture Influences Classical Music

By Ron Eldridge

Sound and music has transcended time, from when the very first tribal community originated on earth to our present day society. The influence of one community’s culture began to infuse with another from Africa to Europe and Asia to America. Sound and music are universal, no matter where it occurs or who hears it.

With this in mind, I recently pondered the question: Has black culture influenced the classical music world?

To find an answer, I talked with Maestro Matt Troy to get his professional opinion. Maestro Troy has deep roots here in the Triad (, but performs worldwide. He is passionate about creating out-of-the-box performances where one musical art form can relate to another and still retain its pure qualities for his worldwide audiences.

Matt related, “The impact of black music and culture on music as a whole is monumental, beginning centuries before the American art form of jazz and blues took place. Consider how music stems from naturally occurring sounds and rhythms by using patterns, repetition, scales and tonality. Even today, some cultures have certain instances where their music imitates natural sounds of their environment. Through not being afraid to embrace new sounds, it has led to the creation of diverse music.”

He continued, “Legitimacy from one musical source
and fusing it to another blends a new formation of sounds. As in many cases, one may not find acceptance of these new musical relationships; call it watering down the original from its purist state. One of the keys to accepting a new musical conception is to have an understanding on the function and methods of different cultures.”

If it were not for the influence of black composers and musicians on such composers as Le Chevalier de Saint-Georges, Louis Moreau Gottschalk, Ludwig Van Beethoven, Mozart and others, and the impact of their contributions to classical music, it would be interesting to know what the result would have been like without their creative input.

Take a moment to explore some of the contributions that black composers and musicians have made to classical music – the expressions of personal experiences of the African diaspora, life in slavery, life in Harlem, for instance. For more insight go to

Maestro Troy is continuing to push the fusion of different musical communities. In February 2016 in celebration of Black History Month, with the assistance of Gregory Jerome, DJ Mass, RACE Dance Troop and the Oklahoma Philharmonic Orchestra, Maestro Troy merged hip-hop and classical music together in Oklahoma City to an outstanding reception.

We salute all the black composers and musicians for their gifted contributions to the classical art form and we thank Maestro Matthew Troy for bringing together the eclectic “Hot Notes” of the future.


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