Folklore | Music of the Caribbean
F315 | 27794 | S. Stuempfle


This course will offer an introduction to the wide array of
Caribbean music genres, such as calypso, soca, chutney, mento,
reggae, dancehall, biguine, zouk, konpa, misik rasin, kaseko,
danzón, rumba, son, mambo, merengue, bachata, plena, salsa and
reggaetón. By drawing on perspectives from musicology, anthropology
and history, we will examine the creation of Caribbean music at the
intersections of diverse cultural traditions rooted in Africa,
Europe and Asia. A comparative methodology will enable us to chart
similarities and differences in the musical instruments, styles and
repertories of the various Caribbean islands (and nearby mainland
territories) where Spanish, English, French, Dutch and related
creole languages are spoken. This analysis will include attention to
the innovative role of individual musicians in Caribbean music
history.

The course will focus on the social contexts of music in the
Caribbean: colonialism, creolization, urbanization, the expansion of
mass media, professionalization, negotiations of political power,
and the construction of ethnic, class, gender and national
identities. We will attempt to interpret the symbolic significance
of music in the region by investigating various performance
settings, such as religious rituals, public festivals, official
ceremonies, formal competitions and nightclub shows. Finally, we
will examine the wide-ranging impact of Caribbean music genres on
the world’s music, an impact that far exceeds the relative size of
the region’s population. In the course of the past century, the
overseas tours of Caribbean musicians, the settlement of Caribbean
people in northern cities, tourism to the region and the
dissemination of recordings have spread Caribbean music throughout
the world.

No technical knowledge of music or background in Caribbean studies
is required for this course. However, students must demonstrate a
serious commitment to exploring music as central to human experience
and expression and to understanding the Caribbean as a key
crossroads of world history.

Fulfills COLL Arts & Humanities, CSA