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Semester 1

Jazz Studies: Critical Perspectives on Music and Culture (MUSI10102)







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Visiting students' eligibility for this 4th year Music course (including any required Music background) will be assessed on a case-by-case basis, though. **Spaces on Music courses are limited in 2022/23, and so enrolment cannot be guaranteed for any visiting student** NB: This course does not assume prior knowledge of jazz, though students will be expected to augment classroom sessions with reading and listening in order to provide themselves with sufficient contextual basis for discussion and assessment. The course does not concentrate on musical theory/notation, and you will not be required to read or write music for either weekly class sessions or assessments (though you may choose to if you like). This is not a performance-based course.

Course Summary

What is jazz, anyway? Why is it such a powerful and frequently contested cultural symbol? How and why did it develop and change throughout the 20th century, and what might it mean today? Through a mix of lectures, weekly seminar discussion, set readings, and guided listening/viewing, students will engage with some of the various ways in which jazz has been (and remains) operative as both musical and cultural practice.

Course Description

While not a history class per se, this course will take a roughly chronological approach to examining the evolution of jazz as musical and cultural practice from c. 1920 - 2000. In addition to contextual musical content, relevant theoretical frameworks will include (but are not limited to) aspects of race theory, gender theory, disability, anecdotal theory, and approaches drawn from ethnomusicology. In addition, the ethical implications of scholarship will be regularly addressed particularly in relation to notions of genre, and the tensions surrounding notions of music as cultural practice vs. music as/in commodity form. Lecture topics may include (indicative only): - Early Black Music in America; - Signifyin', Orature, and Issues for Musical Analysis; - Jazz and the Commercial Marketplace; - Performing Race/Performing Gender; - Genre and Ethics of Identity in Jazz; - The Improvisational/Compositional Interface; - The Problem of Whiteness and Discourses of Rhythm; - Jazz as Cultural Practice. Each weekly session will be split into two: an hour of seminar-based discussion on set readings, listening, and/or viewing followed by a 50-minute lecture to help contextualise the reading and listening tasks to be discussed in the following session. Central to the course will be an exploration of various theoretical approaches to the study of jazz, and to their successful application in a 10-minute oral presentation (40% course mark) and c. 3500 word summative essay (60% course mark). Two weeks of the course will be set aside for the oral presentations, enabling students to learn from their peers and expand their contextual understanding of jazz practices. The course will be supported by weekly set readings, weekly listening, film clips as appropriate, and a resource list to assist with assessment tasks. Additionally, students are welcome to attend the Edinburgh College of Art's weekly Jazz and Popular Music Study Group for additional discussion/support.

Assessment Information

Written Exam 0%, Coursework 60%, Practical Exam 40%

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