This course will cover select popular music genres, generally defined as music produced for commercial purposes and transmitted through mass media to a wide audience, from ports on our itinerary. Our examination of the music will from the perspective of ethnomusicology, the study of music, culture, and the ways that they intersect and influence one another. In many ways, popular music is a direct reflection of popular culture, subcultures, and current events, and by studying popular music from the past and present, we can gain insight into values, issues, and social, political, and economic factors of the times. We will also examine popular music as it has been influenced by forces of globalization, and how increased access to media and cultural capital from across the globe is rapidly changing the face of popular music from localized to globalized perspectives, but still maintaining elements of local flavor and relevance. We will consider issues of musical change, hybridization, music as a populist expression and political protest, and the influence of technology, the recording industry, and marketing. Issues will be explored through directed reading and listening assignments, written assignments, field assignments, and focused class discussion.
Field WorkCountry: Brazil
Day: 1 - Rio de Janeiro - Wednesday, 20 November
For this field lab we will spend the day exploring the samba, a rhythmic dance imported from Africa during the slave-trading days of the 19th century that is now recognized as the “national dance of Brazil,” and is closely associated with the annual Carnival celebration in Rio de Janeiro. Students will learn about the history and development of the samba and other Brazilian-based dances from an authority in Brazilian history. Students will also visit a samba school, where they will observe the many phases of carnival, from costume making and float building to instrument selection and rehearsals. From the samba school the students will travel to Casa Rosa, a local restaurant located in the backstreets of Favela Maloca and housed in one of Rio’s most famous historic brothels. Students will enjoy a meal of Feijoada (a Brazilian national dish) and have a chance to practice your new samba skills on the dance floor. Academic Objectives: 1. Students will observe and participate in a samba school in Rio, where students will see first-hand the importance of Carnival to Brazilians and the level of engagement in Carnaval preparations by the community. 2. Learning about the history of Carnival, imported from Europe, as well as samba, a dance with African roots, and how these different streams of cultural influence have intertwined in the creation of a uniquely Brazilian Carnaval culture and set of traditions. 3. Applied instruction in samba dancing and other Carnaval activities to be able to experience the beloved tradition of samba, a key element of Brazilian cultural identity.