MUSC 145: Introduction to Jazz

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Note: This course is offered in a blended format. Although the majority of the work is completed online, some classroom meetings are required.

Jazz music has been and continues to be a significant and complicated force in both American and global culture. This course studies this music in its various temporal, geographic, social, economic, and political contexts to examine the ways in which music and culture interact with and co-create each other. In addition to important factual knowledge about jazz history, this course will help students build critical listening skills, and offer vocabulary and techniques to communicate about aural experience in depth both orally and in writing. If, as the old saying goes, “writing about music is like dancing about architecture,” this course assumes that, with sufficient training and practice, anyone can moonwalk the Eiffel Tower.

In addition to a substantial collection of recordings, we will spend a lot of time working with primary source materials and film to see the wide range of reactions people have had, and continue to have, to jazz. As such, this course also asks students to engage in critical discourse analysis as we ponder how various agents have constructed jazz history and what kinds of cultural work these narratives perform.

Required Texts:

  • DeVeaux and Giddins, Jazz, College Edition, 2009. ISBN 978-0393978803
  • Scott DeVeaux and Garry Giddins, Recordings: For Jazz. Four-CD set. 2009. ISBN: 978-0393933796

Classroom Component: In addition to the online portion of the course, there will be three mandatory face-to-face class meetings.

View a sample course syllabus.

Contact the Friday Center at with any questions or for more information.

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