Music in America – MUSC 620

CG • Section 8WK • 11/08/2019 to 04/16/2020 • Modified 09/05/2023

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.

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 the Course Overview.

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 250 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 100 words.

Essay Assignments (5)

The student will write seven 800–1,000-word papers in current Turabian format that detail an analysis and/or reflection in response to questions posed about specific authors, songs, genres, or periods.


The student will write a lesson plan in current Turabian format with outline, lecture content, and handout/worksheet that details the historical, contextual, and cultural influences of a particular musical genre. As part of the lesson plan, consideration will be given to the challenges or opportunities posed as the musical genre relates to a Christian "worldview."


The student will write a lesson/lecture in current Turabian format and create a video of the student presenting the lesson/lecture.  The lesson/lecture should detail the historical, contextual, and cultural influences of the given musical genre. As part of the lesson/lecture, consideration will be given to the challenges or opportunities posed as the musical genre relates to a Christian "worldview."

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.  The topic should be submitted with a rationale for researching this topic related to this course.

Outline and Bibliography Assignment

The student will complete an outline and bibliography in current Turabian format, with at least 10 references.

Final Assignment

The student will write a minimum 11-page research-based paper in current Turabian format on his/her topic, including at least 10 references.