Music in America – MUSC 620

CG • Section 8WK • 11/08/2019 to 04/16/2020 • Modified 02/07/2022

Course Description

Evaluation of various influences contributing to the creation of a unique “American” musical style. Materials are arranged and discussed in a theoretical/historical framework. Diversity of influences investigated include: European, African American, Afro-Cuban, American Indian, Spanish-Mexican, religious, jazz, blues, folk song, popular, and black gospel. Special attention is given to music of the American Colonies and specific musical influences through the 21st century.

For information regarding prerequisites for this course, please refer to the Academic Course Catalog.


American music encompasses an enormous variety of styles in which popular culture runs parallel to that of “high art” for most of the 20th century, resulting in a tradition that is both unique, when contrasted with the European tradition, and culturally inclusive. As an overview of the influences of music in American culture, this course focuses on several specific musical styles and the cultural and social environments in which they developed. This course provides perspective on music in the American experience, and establishes a historical framework for evaluating music as a source of cultural influence. Beginning with a survey of Colonial music in New England, the course continues through discussion of two genres—blues and jazz—which come out of the African American experience. Consideration is given to the influences of these music styles on culture and the church. Also discussed are topics that go to the heart of American rural musical traditions, such as folk and bluegrass. The course focuses on the music through its stylistic markers, historical context, structure, social significance, and cultural impact.

Measurable Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this course, the student will be able to:

    1. Examine content of American music from early to present day.
    2. Evaluate specific elements that distinguish particular styles, genres, and cultural influences in American music.
    3. Analyze musical features of American music making comparisons between genres.
    4. Develop arguments for the connection of music styles and genres within culture.
    5. Synthesize musical concepts from a cross-section of historical and theoretical styles.

Course Assignment

Textbook readings and lecture presentations

Course Requirements Checklist

After reading the Course Syllabus and Student Expectations, the student will complete the related checklist found in Module/Week 1.

Discussions (7)

Discussions are collaborative learning experiences. Therefore, the student is required to submit a thread in response to the provided prompt for each forum. Each thread must be at least 300 words and demonstrate course-related knowledge. In addition to the thread, the student is required to reply to 2 other classmates’ threads. Each reply must be at least 150 words.

Assignments (7)

The student will write seven 1,000–1,200-word papers in current Turabian format that details an analysis and/or reflection in response to questions posed about specific authors, songs, genres, or periods.

Research Paper Assignment

This assignment will be completed in 3 parts:

Topic Submission Assignment

The student will choose a Topic to research. The topic must be pertinent to 1 of the subjects discussed in this course.

Outline and Bibliography Assignment

The student will complete an Outline and Bibliography in current Turabian format, with at least 15 references.

Final Paper Assignment

The student will write a minimum 20-page research-based paper in current Turabian format on their topic, including at least 15 references.