20th Century American Music

John Martin
Day/Time Taught: 
MW 3:30-4:45 pm and MW 5:00-6:15 pm
Course Number: 

Music is one of the great reflectors of social change in America; music has preceded, accompanied, or succeeded every period of cultural upheaval and rebellion in American history since at least the Jazz Age. Original American music can be divided into five basic categories, Blues, Jazz, Country, Rock, and Rap. Of these five the first for emerged from the South. The class will be taught thematically rather than linearly, so Blues will be discusses one week, Jazz the next and so on, focusing on the individual journeys of each music form rather than their histories. Other categories that will be explored include protest and rebellion, status-quo music, black and white music, etc. People express new ideas through music, newly unrepressed sexuality in the 1920s with Jazz and the Blues, teenage rebellion with Rock n Roll in the 1950s, radical new political ideas in the 1960s and so on. Old-time music experienced a resurgence in the 1920s partially as a response to Jazz, and the 1950s and ‘60s saw the rise of Country music as a popular alternative to Americans who felt out of sync with Rock music. This class will explore questions such as how and why we create music, and how we use it. Students will choose a topic from 20th century American Music a explore it using books, articles, movies, CDs, and other library resources. Students may choose any musical movement from late Ragtime or the Hawaiian music craze to Punk Rock or Rap, or individual artists, events, or instruments. They will then examine the cultural foundations of the music and discuss the social ramifications it caused or represented. The end product of the class will be that each student will make a themed concept album, complete with several pages of well-researched liner notes which explain the theme and how each song contributes to the overall understanding of the topic. Students will also record local musicians, attend music events, and discuss readings in class.

Contact FYS

The First Year Seminar is part of the General Education Program located in Anne Belk Hall, Room 250.

Phone: 828-262-2028

Our mailing address:
First Year Seminar
ASU Box 32065
Appalachian State University
Boone, NC 28608

Director of First Year Seminar:
Rick Klima

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