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Jazz History

A four-semester course examining the musical and cultural development of jazz, from its ante- cedents in the musical cultures of West Africa, Western Europe and the New World, to the music that is performed internationally today. Through extensive listening, reading and discus- sion, students gain a solid understanding of jazz, a twentieth-century urban dance music that has become globally celebrated as a cultural art form embodying the ideals of freedom and democracy.

HIS100A – 200B fulfills the Jazzschool Institute Social Sciences requirement. Please note: the Social Sciences requirement is not transferable from another institution. This requirement must be fulfilled at the Jazzschool Institute.



Jazz History — the Roots of Jazz

and early Jazz, Pre-1900 – 1919

3 credits, 3 hours lecture

This course examines the influences of West African, Caribbean, South American, Asian and European music and culture on the development of jazz pre-1900, and on the early music of New Orleans that became known to the world as jazz by 1917. The course focuses on the West African conceptual approaches, practices, and cultural conventions that form the foundation of jazz, and its origins in spirituals, blues, ragtime and other African American sacred and secular music. The development of jazz is studied within the historical context of American social forces including post-bellum segregation, the industrial boom and the Great Black Migration, World War I, and the invention of the radio and sound recordings.



Jazz History — Style and Culture in America from 1920 – 1939

3 credits, 3 hours lecture

A survey of early jazz styles, from the Jazz Age of the Prohibition era, through the reign of the swing bands and the jitterbug, to the pre-World War II modern jazz jam sessions in Harlem. The music of Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Charlie Parker and many others is studied within the contexts of the post-World War I economic boom, the Great Depression, ballrooms and big bands, the rise of sound motion pictures, American musical theater and the Great American Songbook, among other socioeconomic and cultural touchstones.


Jazz History — Style and Culture in America from 1940 – 1959

3 credits, 3 hours lecture

This course explores jazz as an art form, with a focus on the musical innovations of modern jazz through the beginnings of free jazz. Styles including bebop, hard bop, funk, Latin jazz, cool jazz, and other styles created by Dizzy Gillespie, Thelonious Monk, Miles Davis, Max Roach, the Modern Jazz Quartet, Art Blakey’s and Horace Silver’s Jazz Mes- sengers, Ornette Coleman and many of their collaborators are examined, focusing on instrumental grouping, structural, harmonic and rhythmic creativity, and folk influences. Students draw connections between the mid- century impact of World War II, the Atomic Age and the Cold War, the hegemony of television, advertising, the burgeoning Civil Rights Movement and other historical epochs upon the evolution of jazz.


Jazz History — Style and Culture in America from 1960 – Present

3 credits, 3 hours lecture

This course surveys the range of idioms and subgenres of post-Coltrane jazz, particularly the evolution of free jazz with the AACM, the 1970s New York Loft Scene, jazz in Europe, the music and ideas of Wynton Marsalis juxtaposed with the electronic fusion music of Miles Davis and his col- laborators, Herbie Hancock, Weather Report, Chick Corea, et al, and the return of jazz to its dance origins. The steady influx of global influences from traditional and contemporary musicians from Africa, Asia, and the New World continues to infuse a diverse range of compositional styles, forms and instruments into the jazz world.



New Orleans: the Birthplace of Jazz

Elective — 2 credits, 2 hours lecture

A course tracing the musical influence of the international port of New Orleans, the melting pot for music innovation and cultural exchange that is the wellspring of the American art form, jazz. Explores the African American experience of cultural resilience through dance, singing and drumming traditions that fused elements from various cultures with gospel, blues and the Latin tinge. Includes analysis of important recordings as well as in-class performance of traditional and modern New Orleans-style funeral marches, street parades, brass bands and other music employing improvisation, syncopation, call and response and friendly competition that continue to influence music throughout the world.



History of American Roots Music from 1900 – Present

Elective — 2 credits, 2 hours lecture

A survey course on the history and cultural significance of American acoustic music styles, from traditional country, blues and bluegrass, to singer-songwriter, and newgrass (progressive bluegrass), among other contemporary acoustic sounds.



The Language of Hard Bop

3 hours, 3 credits listening/lab

Drawing on quintessential recordings of the 50s and 60s hard bop era, students listen to, explore and discuss selected works of hard bop masters, focusing in particular on the collaborative spirit inherent in jazz. Recordings include iconic Blue Note Records artists such as Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers ‘family tree’, Miles Davis’ small groups and more. Students apply concepts characteristic of the hard bop style to in-class performance of jazz repertoire. Prerequisites: MUS200B and THE200B or permission of instructor.



Jazz Oral History Methodology

Elective — 3 credits, 3 hours lecture

An introduction to jazz oral history methodology. Students learn research techniques in literature review focusing on biographies and autobiographies; oral history methodologies including research, preparation, transcription and analysis of interviews; and interview, audiovisual and archival techniques and their application. In partnership with the Smithsonian Institution, students work with and contribute to the collection of the Smithsonian Jazz Oral History Program at the National Museum of American History.

Prerequisite: HIS100A or consent of instructor



The Jazz Singers

Elective — 2 credits, 2 hours lecture

A history class focusing on the legendary jazz singers from the perspective of the first instrument, the voice. Students listen to and learn about a gamut of jazz singers and their greatest contributions, beginning with the precursors of jazz from work songs, field hollers, spirituals, rag and blues, to the “holy trinity” — Billie Holiday, Sarah Vaughan and Ella Fitzgerald — on to jazz today and its future. Students learn to identify stylistic nuances unique to each artist as well as become familiar with the important instrumentalists supporting them. Lectures include an overview of the social climate of each period, fostering a greater understanding of how this music was created and has evolved. Film shorts of some of the renowned artists are shown throughout the course. Students are asked to at- tend and write reviews of two live jazz concerts.



Latin American Roots of Jazz

2 credits (may also be taken as an Elective),

2 hours lecture

A survey of the evolution and relevance of the Afro-Latino roots of jazz. This course examines the pan-American sociopolitical circumstances that brought Afro-Latino music and jazz together as branches of the same tree. Emphasis is placed on the historical development of the especially influential music of Cuba, New York and Puerto Rico. Students listen to rare recordings from 1900 to the present. Music is analyzed through lecture, listening and discussion and broadens an understanding of jazz from both stylistic and historical perspectives.



Music of Latin America

Elective — 2 credits, 2 hours lecture

A survey course covering a wide variety of Latin American traditional and contemporary music styles and their Indigenous, European and African cultural influences, including styles of Salsa and Latin jazz that developed wholly or partly in the United States. This course focuses on the musicological aspects as well as the historical and social impact of each style.



String Players in Jazz

Elective — 2 credits, 2 hours lecture

An in-depth study of jazz string playing in the United States, Europe and Scandinavia, focusing on the key players who have led the charge. This course examines the stylistic development of the music from classical and folk roots to emergng forms of popular music and jazz over the last century. String players (both acoustic and elec- tric) have always played an important part in the development of jazz, but very few have entered the mainstream successfully. Students gain an historical perspective on these artists’ lives and assess the impact they have had on the jazz art form, listening to the earliest recordings of both soloists and ensembles and moving on to cover the pro- ponents and innovators of modern jazz idioms.



2 credits

A continuation of HIS320A.




Jazz and Intercultural Practice

2 credits, 2 hours lecture

This course reviews selected musical traditions of the world and their cross-cultural and inter- cultural jazz application.



The Beatles

Elective — 3 credits, 3 hours lecture

An examination of the life and work of the incomparable English rock and pop group The Beatles, framing the group’s career in the context of the vibrant social, cultural, and political climate of the 1960s. Attention is given to the group’s impeccable song writing, their rapid rise to fame, and their creative use of newly-available technology in the recording studio.



Western European Art Music and Culture from Antiquity to 1750

3 credits, 3 hours lecture

This course traces the development of Western European art music from the 10th century through the middle 18th century, focusing on the musical styles of the master compos- ers of the Medieval, Renaissance and Baroque periods. Emphasis on the socio-economic and political conditions that gave rise to them.



Western European Art Music and Culture from 1750 to the Present

3 credits, 3 hours lecture

This course traces the development of Western European art music from the middle 18th century through the twentieth century and beyond focusing on the musical styles of the master composers of the Classical, Romantic and Twentieth Century periods and beyond. Emphasis on the socio-economic and political conditions of each period.