Music 526: Music in the United States
A survey of styles arising in North American culture:
imported and native, cultivated and vernacular. (3 credits)
The course explores issues in the history of music in the United
States, including: distinctive features of the American musical environment,
patronage, etc.; the borrowing and modification of imported styles; the
influence of African styles and esthetic upon American music; the contrast
between vernacular and cultivated styles of music; the reception of American
music abroad; and the influence of the local cultural scene on American
composers. Students will become familiar with representative examples of a
variety of American musical styles from the colonial days to the present.
- Richard Crawford, An Introduction to America's Music (New York:
Norton, 2001) required purchase.
- Recordings for An Introduction to America's
Music, 3-CD set, required purchase.
- H. Wiley Hitchcock, Music in the United States: A Historical
Introduction, 3d edition (Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1988).
- Gilbert Chase, America's Music from the Pilgrims to the Present
rev. 3d ed., (University of Illinois Press, 1987).
- Charles Hamm, Music in the New World (New York:
- J. Heywood Alexander, ed., To Stretch Our Ears: A Documentary
History of America's Music (New York: Norton, 2002).
Topics for Discussion:
- The 18th century.
- Psalmody and sacred music.
- Oral traditions.
- Military, concert, and theater.
- The 19th century
- Singing schools and music education
- The rise of classical music: Heinrich, Fry and Gottschalk
- Sprituals and the minstrel theater
- The rise of the music publishing industry
- Classical music: the first New England school
- Parlor music and the rise of Tin Pan Alley
- The Twentieth Century
- The music of Charles E. Ives
- Ragtime, blues and jazz
- The American musical stage
- Concert music in the modern age
- Popular music since WW2
- Attendance and participation in class discussion.
(Bring Crawford to every class.)
- Reading and listening as assigned.
- Class work as assigned.
- Book review, due February 20. See supplementary
readings or Crawford's bibliographic
supplement (PDF format) for suggested topics.
- Class project, recorded anthology and essay, due May 3.
- One-hour midterm exam, March 4. Bring a blue book.
- Final examination, May 12, 8:00 AM. Bring a blue book.
Study guides and links
Listening guide 1
Listening guide 2
DRAM: Database of Recorded American Music Free listening
lab for UM students.
The old way of singing
Samuel Sewall leads the psalm.
Singing Controversy (Linda R. Ruggles) [beware heinous popup ads!]
William Billings on musick
Steele (Dr. Steel's ancestor) on "Continuous Singing."
Spirituals," by T.W. Higginson (1867)
Sorrow Songs" by W.E.B. Du Bois (1903)
The Sy Oliver Story, part 1 (1974 interview)
American music links
American music video playlist
Steel's YouTube playlists
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