This course will consider the American musical landscape from the colonial period to the present with an emphasis, though not exclusive focus, on non-written traditions. The course is not a chronological journey, but rather a topical treatment of the various issues in the history of American music. Some of the specific, project-oriented activities of the course will consist of, but will not be limited to the following: (1)participating in the development of a traveling exhibition on the Apollo Theater for the SmithsonianInstitution; (2)development of a permanent website for a history of jazz course at Penn; (3)reviewing two manuscripts for publication to a major press; (4)developing a working proposal for a history of African American music. In this context students will learn the basics of contemporary music criticism, including: identifying a work's significant musical gestures; positioning those gestures within a broader field of musical rhetoric, conventions, and social contracts; and theorizing the conventions with respect to large systems of cultural knowledge, such as historical, geographical contexts as well as the lived experiences of audiences, composers, performers, and dancers. Other topics covered: origin and development of American popular music and gendered and racial aspects of American classical music.
In a two-part post, the Penn Gazette Arts and Culture blog features music listening suggestions from various staff and faculty at the Music Department. Both Part 1 and Part 2 highlight some new and interesting summer listening suggestions.