Course Description and Purpose: History of American Song is a social, political, cultural and geographic journey through American popular music. Because it is a history course, History of American Song will be concerned with how music helps explain the past and how music has helped people express ideas about the American scene.  We’ll stress history thinking skills that will be familiar to students: chronological thinking, change and continuity, point of view, context, and causal analysis. Because the course relies on music and performance as primary sources, learning to purposefully listen and view will be essential. Hopefully, you will emerge from the course with a deeper understanding of American History and with a refined aesthetic sense that informs your own listening choices.

Scope of the Course: To cover “American Music” in one semester would be an impossible task. The course will focus on popular American music in the late 19th and 20th centuries, though we will begin with a brief overview of early European, Native American and African influences on American music. During the semester we will cover various genres of American popular music including folk, country, bluegrass, blues, jazz, Tin Pan Alley, Broadway, gospel R&B, rock, and hip hop, though a goal of the course is to question such categories and recognize points at which genres intersect.

Assessments: The course is reading, writing and listening intensive. You are asked to fully participate in class discussions. The class blog is an essential part of our class conversations, so please contribute thoughtfully.

Homework: 40%

Essays: 50%

Participation: 10%

Plagiarism is not tolerated.  If you are caught stealing words, I will refer the matter to Mr. Yamamoto.

Extra Help: If you have trouble with any aspect of this course, please see me immediately. We can meet before or after school, during your free periods, or during lunch.  Just make an appointment so that can decide on a mutually convenient meeting time. Do not hesitate to consult with me.  My job is to help you learn.