University of Surrey - Guildford

Registry > Module Catalogue
View Module List by A.O.U. and Level  Alphabetical Module Code List  Alphabetical Module Title List  Alphabetical Old Short Name List  View Menu 
2010/1 Module Catalogue
 Module Code: MUS3029 Module Title: AFRICAN-AMERICAN MUSIC
Module Provider: Music and Sound Recording Short Name: MUS3
Level: HE3 Module Co-ordinator: HUGHES TS Dr (Music Record)
Number of credits: 20 Number of ECTS credits: 10
Module Availability
Semester 2
Assessment Pattern

Units of Assessment
Weighting Towards Module Mark (%)
(100% of total assessment)

Qualifying Conditions
Coursework 1: A critique of no more than 1,500 words of a key text (30%)

Coursework 2: Weekly entries, submitted through ULearn, listing the music you've listened to and any thoughts provoked by the music or subject (no more than 50 words each).
A brief essay of 500-1,000 words in which you reflect upon the music you've heard, the concepts and repertoire you've learned in class, and how your thoughts may or may not have changed over the course of the term (30%)

Coursework 3:
A final project chosen from one of the following (40%):

  • A research paper of no more than 3000 words on a topic within African-American music, or
  • A pastiche of a song taken from the studied repertoire that must be approved in advance (i.e. a song performed in the style of specific existing piece of African-American music), accompanied by a descriptive/analytical essay of no more than 1,500 words

Module Overview
This module provides an introduction to the study of African-American Music and major issues arising in its study.  These include race; African music; the collision of cultures that created and shaped African-American culture in general and music specifically; colonialism, slavery, and the diaspora; resistance both within and through the music; intertextual commentary; collective individuality; spontaneous expression; ecstatic expression; African nationalism; cultural memory; and signifyin(g).  For the purposes of this module "African-American Music" will refer both to the music and to the musical traditions created by African-Americans, particularly in the United States from 1800 to the present day.  The module will also include some discussion of the role of musicians who are not African-American within African-American musical traditions, as well as the effect African-American music has had on other musics.
Pre-requisites: Popular Song Analysis, Advanced Popular Music Harmony, World Music, or permission of instructor
Module Aims
  • To develop further knowledge and understanding of African-American music
  • To interrogate and examine the economic, social, political, and cultural contexts in which African-American music originated, developed, and has proliferated
  • To understand and develop methods for studying African-American music
Learning Outcomes
Upon completion of this module you should be able to:
  • Demonstrate awareness and familiarity with the musical genres and styles covered within this module
  • Demonstrate awareness and familiarity with the contexts in which African-American music exists and the interrelation between those contexts and the music itself
  • Employ methods discussed in class to gain further knowledge and understanding of African-American music
Module Content
The content of this module will consist of four loosely interwreathed areas:
  • An introduction to the collision of cultures between Africa and Europe that took place as a result of colonialism, particularly as it occurred in North America, and how that collision manifested itself in African-American music up to the present day
  • An introduction to particular elements in African-American music, especially those such as signifyin(g), call and response, and improvisation, that are of particular importance to the creation, transmission, reception, and/or interpretation of the music
  • The study of African-American musical repertoire
  • An examination of how African-American music and the societies in which it exists have shaped each other
Methods of Teaching/Learning
The module consists of eleven two-hour lectures.  Each lecture will engage a different issue, topic and/or repertoire within the broadly defined subject of African-American music.  There may be required reading and listening for each week in advance of the class meeting.  A significant component of the module will include listening to music and watching videos outside of the classroom, in order to gain familiarity with the repertoire; participation in discussion both inside and outside of class; and maintaining a reflective diary throughout the term.
Selected Texts/Journals
Floyd, Samuel, Jr., 1995: The Power of Black Music: Interpreting Its History from Africa to the United States. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Ramsey, Guthrie, Jr., 2003: Race Music: Black cultures from Bebop to Hip-Hop. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.

Burnim, Mellonee V. and Maultsby, Portia K., 2005: African American Music: An Introduction (New York: Routledge)

Hughes, Tim, 2003: Groove and Flow: Six Analytical Essays on the Music of Stevie Wonder,
Keil, Charlies and Steven Feld, 1994: Music Grooves. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Rose, Tricia, 1994: Black Noise: Rap Music and Black Culture in Contemporary America. Hanover, NH: Wesleyan University Press.
Ward, Brian, 1998: Just My Soul Responding: Rhythm and Blues, Black Consciousness, and Race Relations. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.
Last Updated