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Spring 2020 course: Music in the United States

Spring 2020 course: Music in the United States
An intensive, topics-oriented survey of music and musical life in the Americas

MUHL4300-003 (49844) / MUHL5330-001 (49848)

Professor: Dr Christopher J Smith (
Course Facebook “Event”:

Meets TR 12:30-1:50pm M209 School of Music.
Open to undergrads and grad students from across the TTU campus. Permission of instructor required. Fulfills upper-level Music History requirement for music majors. Students from a range of disciplines (history, political science, music, mass communications) welcome & encouraged to enroll.

Requirements include mid-term and final essay exams, a research project, attendance, and participation.

This seminar is an intensive, topics-oriented survey of music and musical life in the Americas (primarily, due to limitations on scope and time, musics in the United States). We will start with the roots of indigenous and emigrant music, through the Colonial, Federal, Antebellum, Civil War, and Reconstruction periods, tracing the rise of the popular music industry and the creation of an American canon of “great works,” exploring the parallel traditions of popular song, concert music, and indigenous styles, most notably African-American derived. We will study both popular and “classical” music and both traditions generally considered to be at the center of the canon of American music and traditions that have been excluded from it. Our theme will be the special problems and cultural issues that have confronted American musicians since the founding of the Republic.

We will develop familiarity with a range of social, cultural, historical, economic, and biographical factors which have shaped American music since the first European colonization. Our emphasis will be upon understanding the interaction of “content” (musical structure, procedure, aesthetics versus agendas, biographies, and writing, etc) and “context” (times-places-peoples from which musical idioms and cultural phenomena originated), and upon creating an enhanced sensitivity to interactions of the music and cultural history.

Drawing on lectures, reading, listening, audio/visual sources, in-class performances, and individual research, this course provides students with an enhanced learning experience combining approaches from folklore, ethnomusicology, cultural and literary history, performance studies, anthropology, geography, and more.




Chris Smith


School of Music

Event Information
Time: 12:30 PM - 1:50 PM
Event Date: 1/14/2020

M218 School of Music