Students will learn about jazz since the 1880s emphasizing its various influences and developments.
Jazz is one of the primary foundations for American and Global music in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. This course highlights the multi-cultural and international scope of jazz by exploring the music and lives of a diverse array of jazz practitioners from around the United States and around the world. Prerequisite: None. In addition to a survey of the most important jazz performers and their associated styles and techniques (e.g., swing, bebop, cool, modal, avant-garde, jazzrock fusion, etc.), the course explores the often provocative role jazz music has played in American and global society, the diverse perceptions and arguments that have surrounded its production and reception, and how these have been inflected by issues of race, ethnicity, class, nationality, gender, sexuality, and ability/disability.
The course begins with an investigation into African and African American musical precursors, including spirituals, work and play songs, minstrel traditions, ragtime and the blues. It continues by exploring the emergence of jazz in New Orleans, Chicago, Kansas City, New York City and Los Angeles, as well as the exportation of jazz to locales around the world. Close attention will be paid to jazz artists and practices in the various ports of call we will visit on our voyage, including in-depth coverage of jazz in Japan and China, Indo-Jazz fusions, and the important role that South African jazz music and musicians played in the struggle against apartheid.
Broadly speaking, the course is designed to increase our abilities to hear differences among performances and styles of jazz and to interpret the meanings of such differences. Students will learn to use historical perspective, social context, and technological mediation as prisms through which we can understand why a piece of music sounds the way it does, what the music signifies about a particular time and place, and how its meanings may change for musicians and audiences over time. By taking a comparative approach, the course also aims to facilitate greater understanding of the individual student’s particular identity in relation to that of other identities discussed in the course, and provides skills and experiences to increase self-awareness and to foster diversity, equity, and inclusion.
Field WorkCountry: South Africa
Date: March 18, 2019
This Field Class will involve a visit to the South African College of Music (SACM) at the University of Cape Town (UCT), which has the most extensive jazz education program in the area. We will visit with students, faculty, and administrators of the College and have the opportunity to drop in on various jazz rehearsals. The class will also have an opportunity to exchange with members of Jazz in the Native Yards, a social enterprise that brings jazz music performances to spaces, mostly in the townships of Cape Town. This day will provide a first-hand look at how jazz instruction in Cape Town remains committed to the long and important South African jazz tradition while also engaging in concerted ways with the international language of modern jazz and jazz pedagogy.
1. Explore the important history of South African jazz and experience first-hand how these traditions are being maintained and extended through jazz education initiatives in Cape Town, in particular at the South African College of Music at the University of Cape Town.
2. Interact with young musicians who are striving to develop their own musical and artistic voice with respect to the local and international jazz communities.