MUS 230 -
History of Jazz
Jazz is probably America’s most important contribution to world music. In this class, you will learn about the history of jazz and how the music developed and changed over time. We will listen closely to recordings by the most significant jazz musicians, getting to know the characteristic features of their styles, the traits that give each musician a distinctive and recognizable voice. We will consider the place of jazz in American culture, and the ways that political, economic, and social forces affected its development. We will give attention to the issues of racism and sexism, and the different roles and attitudes of musicians, critics, producers, and audiences, both black and white, male and female.
REQUIRED TEXTS and RECORDINGS
Shipton, Alyn. A
New History of Jazz. London: Continuum, 2001.
(available at the UMF Bookstore)
Definitive Performances, a
2-CD set of recordings, SONY J2K 65807.
(available at Everyday Music on Broadway in downtown Farmingon)
Shipton’s New History of Jazz is a huge, wonderful book, but I won’t expect you to read every one of its nearly nine hundred pages. Instead, you’ll be getting very specific reading assignments averaging around fifty or sixty pages a week. You’ll pull together and summarize the material in your jazz journal entries (see below), and also should be prepared to answer questions about it on the tests.
The recordings in Jazz: The Definitive Performances are taken from the archives of record labels that Sony owns: Columbia, Epic, Legacy, and Okeh. That covers many of the most historically significant performances—Louis Armstrong’s “West End Blues,” Frankie Trumbauer and Bix Beiderbecke’s “Singin’ the Blues,” Count Basie’s “Lester Leaps In,” Miles Davis’s “So What,” and more. Unfortunately, some very important musicians get left out because their recordings were on other labels such as Victor, Impulse, or Dial. That means no Jelly Roll Morton or Charlie Parker or John Coltrane. In addition, this collection, like many other jazz anthologies, neglects great women instrumentalists such as Mary Lou Williams. Well, you can’t have a complete jazz history without these people, so we’ll listen to quite a bit of their music in class, and I will also urge you to check out their recordings in the library—or even buy some more CDs to add to your own collection.
There will be three tests, given approximately every four weeks, and a final exam. The questions are taken from the reading assignments and the material we’ve covered in class. I will also play excerpts of recordings and ask you questions about them. For the assigned selections from the CD anthology, that will include identifying the title, players, and recording date. The dates of the tests are February 7, March 14, and April 13. There will also be an open-book final exam about which I’ll give you more specific details as we approach the end of the semester.
Approximately once a week you will write a journal entry about the assigned reading from Shipton and what’s been covered in class. Here are the guidelines:
Use the journal to summarize the main topics that were covered in class and in the assigned reading. You should demonstrate that you’ve been paying attention, taking notes, and reflecting thoughtfully on the material.
The journals should be well-written, with complete sentences, clear organization, and minimal misspellings.
They should be at least 400 words long.
They should be handed in on time.
If you adhere to these guidelines, you are guaranteed a hundred points. There will be eight journal entries altogether. The due dates are Jan. 26, Feb. 2, Feb. 16, Mar. 7, Mar. 23, Mar. 30, Apr. 6, and May 2.
In order to get the most out of this class, you need to show up regularly. One of the main reasons is to hear the recordings and see the videos that are not readily available to you outside of class. Besides that, of course, when you miss a class, you also miss out on the lecture material and discussion, and the give and take of questions and answers. I will keep track of attendance. Missing more than three classes will lower your grade.
POLICY ON ACADEMIC INTEGRITY
Plagiarism, cheating, and other forms of academic dishonesty are not tolerated in any community of scholars—and that includes my classroom. UMF’s Code of Academic Integrity affirms our commitment to a climate of trust and respect in which “one’s work is the product of one’s own effort, and one neither receives nor gives unauthorized assistance in any assignment. Because advanced academic work depends on the sharing of information and ideas, academic integrity at the college level includes rigorous adherence to the conventions for acknowledging one’s use of the words and ideas of other people.” The Code has clear explanations of the kinds of work that are considered improper, and it lays out specific sanctions for violations of the code: for the first offense, a reduction of one full letter grade; for the second, an F for the course; and for the third, expulsion from the university. If you have any questions, please ask.
Tests - 45%
Jazz journal - 35%
Final exam - 20%
My regular office hours will be 1:00-2:00 on Tuesdays and Thursdays, but we can also make appointments at other times. My phone number on campus is 778-7290; my email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
The university provides reasonable
accommodations for individuals with disabilities.
Please contact me if you need an accommodation.