Folklore | THEORIZING BLACK MUSIC
F609 | 2247 | M. Burnim
Meets with F722. Just who are the scholars (past and present) who engage in
the study of African American music? What motivates them, and how have
these motivating factors influenced the evolution of scholarship in African
American music? From the earliest investigations of African American music
in the nineteenth century to present day studies, research in African
American music has profoundly underscored the socio-cultural and political
landscape of this country. This course will introduce students to seminal
works in African American music, exploring in particular how the variables
of race, class and culture shaped the ideological and theoretical
perspectives of those who embraced this area of scholarly inquiry. The
organization of the course will be both synchronic and diachronic, in an
effort to facilitate critical discovery of themes and approaches which
indicate patterns of continuity as well as divergence. Both sacred and
secular musics will be examined, ranging from the folk spiritual created
during slavery to classical music to present day popular musical forms. The
issue of representation will serve as a unifying core of our discussion.
Required Texts (Partial Listing):
Alain Locke. The Negro and His Music. New York: Kennikat, , 1968.
Christopher Small. Music of the Common Tongue. New York: Riverrun Press,
Dena Epstein. Sinful Tunes and Spirituals. Urbana: University of Illinois,
George Robinson Ricks: Some Aspects of the Religious Music of the United
States Negro. New York: Da Capo,  1977.
Samuel Floyd. The Power of Black Music. New York: Oxford, 1995.
Tricia Rose. Black Noise: Rap Music and Black Culture in Contemporary
America. Hanover, NH. Wesleyan University Press, 1994.
Paul Berliner. Thinking In Jazz: the Infinite Art of Improvisation.
Chicago: University of Chicago, 1994.
James Monroe Trotter. Music and Some Highly Musical People. New York:
Johnson Reprint Corp.,  1968.
LeRoi Jones. Blues People. New York: William Morrow, 1963.
Evaluation: Emphasis in the seminar will be placed on critical inquiry
based on cooperative learning. Students will complete a series of oral and
written critiques of the assigned reading, some of which will be
individually prepared, while others will be group projects. In some cases,
assignments will require investigation of both written texts, musical
transcription/scores and audio/video recordings for completion. As the
knowledge base of students in the seminar increases, expectations of
assignments will increase accordingly.