Course Description

This course will examine “Jazz”: the myriad of music, ideologies and cultural notions that lay claim to that demarcation. Our strategy will involve an all inclusive approach, the goal of which to reverse the regular mode of inquiry: rather than define “Jazz” and proceed to cover music that falls within the definition, we will look at all musical claims to “Jazz” and seek to form our definition of the term from that inclusive perspective. Our area of inquiry will likewise be inclusive. We will cover both history, culture and “musicological” topics,  and will examine any music that purports to be “jazz”.


We will progress in several directions simultaneously through the semester, keeping the range of our inquiry both wide and deep.


1. As a class, we will read and discuss topics arranged in a rough chronological order, progressing through thesecond decade of the last century into this one. Participation and attendance are both mandatory and crucial to assimilation of this musical idiom and the culture in which it operates.Participation and preparation for class sessions will comprise 25% of the grade.

 2. We will create a class archive of jazz recordings on the class course site. Each week, you will each research the vast trove of Jazz recordings on the web, library and any other sources, and post two new links for recordings with a short (2-3 paragraphs) introduction. Each week, you will be expected to listen to all the posted music for the week, and comment on (at least) one track you have found compelling for some reason. Guidelines into particular search criteria will be given every week.  Weekly posting and commentary will constitute 25% of the grade.

3. Every 6th class will be devoted to student presentations, each around 30 minutes long. Those will concern topics of the student’s choice, within the purview of the enquiries of the previous 5 sessions. Those will either be a further enquiry into people or subjects we have discussed in the past session, or a topic related to the material in some other way.  The presentation will comprise 20% of the grade 

4. The will also be a final project, which will comprise both a 3000 word paper and a production of a 60 minute radio show on Dead Tree Radio on the paper’s topic.  Typically, the radio show will be two thirds music, one third talking and will be broadcast during the final weeks of the semester. The subject for the project should be cleared and researched well in advance, because the show is scheduled to start by mid April and run on a bi-weekly basis until the end of the semester.

The Final Project will comprise 30% of the grade. 

Several times during the semester we will meet outside of class time to view films, attend concerts, etc. Where possible, I will schedule the events at least a month in advance. Participation in those events is expected.


Last modified: Monday, January 16, 2012, 1:38 PM