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In most modern music in 4/4 beats 2 and 4 are where the snare hits are and are usually referred to as the backbeat. Normally in 4/4 the 2 and 4 beat would not be accented, but the snare hits do just that. Where did this idea originate and why is it so important to accent 2 and 4?

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Wiki has some info on backbeat but another related term is for example, four on the floor which is also another working musician lingo. They mostly come from musician-to-musician slang. – user1306 Jul 20 '14 at 16:47
poss. duplication of 'Why is the backbeat called the rockbeat'.(Oct.'13) – Tim Jul 20 '14 at 18:43
To quote Chuck Berry, the importance of the back beat to rock and roll music is that you can't lose it. :) – BobRodes Jul 22 '14 at 5:49

Where did this idea originate? West Africa, then transplanted to the New World. It is a defining characteristic of African-American music, and all the styles of music that grew out of and were influenced by African-American music. It then spread to the rest of the world via the 20th-century music of the USA, Cuba, Brazil, Jamaica, and other nations with African descendants in the population who influenced the musical culture.

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