Music 253
African Music
and Performance

Dr. Carol A. Muller

Visiting Instructor: Mogauwane Mahloele
ABCS Community Arts Advisor: Carolyn Chernoff

Purpose of the Course
The course examines African music as a cultural practice and living history. It is taught from a musician’s and a scholar’s perspective. Students will be exposed to a world of sound that is exhilarating, rich in diversity, and frequently politically contentious. You will be expected to read extensively and engage with the sound and video recordings on one hand, and with living musical traditions and practitioners on the other. The course has a strong focus on the history of South and West African musical performance on the continent of Africa and in Philadelphia’s new African diaspora, though we will do brief sections on music in North Africa (music and Islam) and music of central Africa. Both instructors for the course were born and raised in South Africa, and have lived in the United States for several years. Both are passionate about the continent of Africa, its people, and its music. Classes conducted by Mogauwane Mahloele will focus on instrumental performance, history, and culture. Those by Carol Muller will compliment the work of Mogauwane Mahloele, The highlight of Muller’s teaching will be two classes devoted to learning the easier rhythmic routines of a migrant worker dance genre called gumboot dance, which has historical and stylistic connections to African American steppin'. With the core knowledge acquired the course will then move to an actual research project working with African immigrant musicians in West Philadelphia, as well as library research to supplement materials gathered. The final component will engage with school students in West Philly—Penn students will teach West Philly students what they have learnt about the musics of Africa, and indeed, about undertaking research on
the subject in Philadelphia itself. This is a unique opportunity to first learn about music and culture of the African continent from African musicians and scholars, and then to transmit that knowledge to others.

Required Books

1. Shelemay, Kay. 1989 Song of Longing. An Ethiopian Journey. Champaign Urbana: Univ. of Illinois Press. (on Ethnographic research in music)
2. Veal, Michael. 2000. Fela: The Life and Times of a Musical Icon. Philadelphia: Temple University Press. (On the late popular/controversial Nigerian musician)
3. Additional Readings on Library Reserve in BB, see list.

Required Recordings
(UK: World Music Network,
The Rough Guide: South African Jazz (2000)
The Rough Guide: Africa (2001)
The Rough Guide to the Music of North Africa (1997)

Download complete Fall 2003 syllabus (PDF)