Document Type

Honors Project

Publication Date



The popularity and universal reach of music genres such as Jazz and Hip Hop attest to the idea that these forms have been long established as a vital part of global musical culture. For people who are familiar with Afrocentric music, it is clear that styles such as Jazz and Hip Hop are rooted in, and inextricably linked with, African culture and history. What is more difficult to make sense of, however, is how and why transplanted African culture came to have such wide reaching impact in the new contexts in which it was taken up – because the stories behind the history are long and fragmented.

This project serves to add a voice to the conversation by offering a unique perspective that comes from the musical experiences I have had at Lawrence University and while studying abroad in Ghana and Cuba. By drawing on these specific experiences, and relevant scholarship in this field, this project aims to describe how West African music has impacted sacred and secular music in South America, catalyzing a rich and complex cultural exchange between Cuba, Brazil and the United States. In addition to the research completed for this paper, a live performance has been orchestrated in order to highlight the connections between musical styles from these cultures and demonstrate how influences are exchanged.

Level of Honors

summa cum laude


Conservatory of Music


Jose Encarnacion

Honors project presentation.ppt (46033 kB)
Friedman Honors Project Lecture 2018