Cultural appropriation examples

The marching band I play in met to talk about cultural appropriation and music last night. We did a lot of background reading to prepare for the discussion, and from that I put together a short presentation of songs which demonstrated this phenomenon. If you somehow had no idea that this sort of thing happened all the time, I promise your jaw will drop at least once while watching these.

For reference, here’s a useful definition of cultural appropriation.


“Kill whitey” parties organized by white hipsters in Brooklyn (2005)

“Return to Innocence” by Enigma (1994)

“Ain’t no new thing” by Gil Scott-Heron (1972)

“Amen, Brother”, an instrumental cover song by The Winstons (1969)

“Tutti Frutti”

“Shake Rattle & Roll”

“Hound Dog”

“Mbube” by Solomon Linda & The Evening Birds (1939)

Blackface minstrel shows


Turkish Janissary marches

  • See an example
  • These loud brass marching bands heavily inspired European military music, especially in Austria
  • Black musicians learnt to play European military music while serving in the US Civil War, and this musical knowldge, together with ragtime, Black sacred music, and rural blues, were combined in New Orleans around 1900 by musicians like Buddy Bolden to create jazz.

More examples

Many more examples are listed on Wikipedia.