This course is an in-depth examination of the history and influence of music of the African diaspora—and African cultural heritage generally—upon the music of cultures worldwide. Music and traditions from pre-15th century Africa, across the Black Atlantic, and through 21st-century global music genres, will be explored, with special attention paid to their cultural significance. Major topics covered will include: African aesthetics and values as they have permeated new and evolving styles; the sociocultural and historical development of African influenced music genres in the Caribbean, Latin America, North America, Europe, and Asia; the impact of race, gender, sexuality, and class politics on African diasporic music; and the inclusion of Black music and cultural identity in popular cultures.
Africana Studies topics courses enable students to choose from a variety of course themes that change each semester. Courses may explore various topics within the Africana Studies discipline not currently covered in Africana Studies courses. Individual course descriptions are available to registering students through the Africana Studies Department.
This course challenges stereotypical constructions of Africa and African diasporic women (or ADW) in mainstream media. This is done by analyzing internal and external historical relationships that have shaped and redefined the cultures, ideas, institutions, politics, and social relations of several specific groups of African and ADW women. Through a multidisciplinary approach, the course addresses issues and challenges of contemporary Africa, and explores specific themes and concerns that have existed throughout Africa’s colonial, gendered, complex, and changing history. In particular, the course centers on African and African diaspora feminist movements and icons who have applied feminist ethics to social phenomena in their own contexts (e.g. gender based violence, LGBTQIA marginalization, etc.). Popular culture sources, as well as scholarly studies and activist writing, will be employed to help illuminate the lived experiences and perspectives of contemporary women living in various African and African diaspora societies including within the US and worldwide.
During the transatlantic slave trade, the captured Africans resisted their conditions en route to new lives as enslaved with utterings, melodic chants, and drumming that make up the roots of Black music. When drums were banned during the era of slavery in the Americas, people of African descent worldwide pivoted and reinvented the instrument–giving birth to traditions such as the steel pan music of Trinidad and Tobago. Work songs were also developed, and when African American slavery worsened in what is now the United States, Negro spirituals provided a way of escape (metaphorically and literally with its coded messages plotting escape). This musical tradition developed into blues, jazz, rock 'n roll, and continues up to today with the controversial mumble rap and trap music. This course offers a deep exploration of the role of music and its contribution to black liberation movements in the U.S. and worldwide.
Beginning with its roots in the earliest music of the African diaspora and tracing its modern iterations through the 20th and early 21st centuries, this course will explore the worldwide movement and phenomenon known as hip-hop. Some have said that hip-hop is a U.S. phenomenon, yet within other countries hip-hop takes on versatile forms connected to youth rebellion, political mobilizing, and radical resistance (such as in Palestine or Brazil). This course will examine the power of hip-hop, which goes beyond its original four elements (DJ'ing, rap, dance and graffiti) to include resistance to oppression/activism, education, and others.
This course will focus on the past and present of peoples of African descent throughout the Americas and the Caribbean. Specifically, the course examines how sugar, as a commodity, played a crucial role in the transatlantic slavery trade, the European invasion of the Americas and its indigenous resistance, and how these historic facts shaped the music of Latin America. Through the lenses of history, music, and society, we will study the differences and similarities between Anglo-African American and Afro-Latin cultures, and how the music formed by these societies were reactive and proactive forces of change in their respective societies.
This course closely examines the intersection of race, identity, class, and gender as it pertains to the emergence of different sounds and communities throughout the African diaspora. In this course, we will approach musical practices established in selected diasporic communities through a variety of perspectives and media that will exhibit the interconnected and disparate qualities between practices. In combination with looking at the anatomy of musical pieces and recordings we will refine analytic tools and knowledge of historical and cultural placement. Selected geographic areas will include North America, West and Central Africa, East Africa, South Africa, Latin America, and the Caribbean.
Contributions of pioneering black Americans in the field of theater have been numerous. This course will provide a lens into the specific ideas, concepts, and contributions of black Americans in musical theater. Specifically, students will survey the evolution and influence (historical, cultural, political, and aesthetic) of black American composers, lyricists, and theatrical artists from the 19th to 21st century Broadway, off-Broadway, and regional theater hits. In addition, students will reflect upon the staged musical and how it connects to race, how it has been shaped by the global diaspora, and how society is reflected on the stage.
This course will examine the intersection of jazz, gender, race, diaspora, and justice through a critical consideration of jazz as a tradition, art form, and performance practice. We will investigate notions of gender within jazz as well as the implications that carries for music and society. This course will also explore the role of women in jazz and their full contributions, while also considering topics such as power, activism, artistry, race, African diaspora, innovation, impact, and genius. Emphasis will be placed on both historical and current perspectives in efforts to trace paradigmatic shifts over time through the analyses of recorded music, oral history, archival records, film, video, live music performance, music journalism, and scholarship. Selected geographic areas will include North America, West and Central Africa, East Africa, South Africa, Brazil, and Cuba.
In this practical course students work on the musical concepts of melody, rhythm, harmony and form as applied to the principles and techniques of writing and arranging for the rhythm section (drums, bass, guitar, keyboards, basic percussion) and a lead-line in a solo instrument, two horns (trumpet, alto or tenor sax) or voice. Students learn the conceptualization process of combining individual components to create a musically satisfying arrangement. Study of various contemporary musical styles and musical concepts that comprise them, including writing from the "bottom up" (groove-driven) and "top down" (working with a melody in a lead instrument or voice). Writing assignments will incorporate combinations of acoustic, electronic and/or MIDI instruments. The course includes a fast-pace overview of the fundamental concepts of music notation such as imaginary bar line, transposition, and rhythmic notation.
All entering students with placement score into this course
The course encompasses the study of the properties of trumpet, alto sax, tenor sax, trombone, and baritone sax, and the writing/arranging processes of standard and spread voicings, approach techniques, melodic embellishment, and guide tone backgrounds. Focus is on applying the writing processes to soli and background writing for two-, three-, four-, and five-part combinations of these instruments. The course also contains an overview of the fundamental of writing for rhythm section including drums, bass, guitar, and keyboard.
All entering students with placement score into this course
In this practical course students work on the musical concepts of melody, rhythm, harmony and form as applied to the principles and techniques of writing and arranging for the rhythm section (drums, bass, guitar, keyboards, basic percussion) and a lead-line in a solo instrument, two horns (trumpet, alto or tenor sax) or voice. After a review of the fundamental concepts of music calligraphy, music notation, imaginary bar line, transposition, and rhythmic notation students learn the conceptualization process of combining individual components to create a musically satisfying arrangement. Study of various contemporary musical styles and musical concepts that comprise them, including writing from the "bottom up" (groove-driven) and "top down" (working with a melody in a lead instrument or voice). Writing assignments will incorporate combinations of acoustic, electronic and/or MIDI instruments.