The University of Mississippi

Music 517: African American Musical Traditions

Warren Steel
232 Music Building

A survey of styles arising from Black American culture: the African background, spirituals, blues, gospel music, and their influence on U.S. and world music. (3 credits)
The origin and development of African American music will be examined from its roots in African societies to the present. Live performances, films and recorded music will be studied as well as written sources. African American music is part of an oral culture and an understanding of folk traditions is essential to its study. Emphasis will be placed upon the structure and function of musical forms as they exist in the black community. We will explore how these forms have been shaped by the experiences of slavery and of rural and urban life. The course will emphasize the black traditional performer as a community leader who creates and manipulates musical forms that function in society. Blues and gospel artists will be invited to perform in class and discuss their music.


Required texts

Reference works

Study and listening guides

A few basic starting points

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