Course Information

Course title:

MUHL4300/5330 Music in the United States


Course number:



Course discipline:



Course description:

MUHL4300/5330 Music in the United States is a one-semester graduate-level course exploring the interactions of American music and cultural history since first Colonial contact.

Computer access: Since this course relies heavily on web-based activities, it is essential that students gain access to a reliable computer with Internet capabilities. If you computer is slow, doesn’t support media applications, or if your Internet connection is prone to busy signals or disconnects, please schedule your day so that you can use a computer in the library. Technical problems do arise, but do yourself a favor and get acquainted with a good computer.

Please note: you the student are responsible for identifying, articulating, and seeking solutions for any computer problems you may encounter; most commonly, you can do this via the Academic Teaching and Learning Center, in the basement of the Main Library.

“Computer problems” will not be considered an acceptable excuse for late or missed assignments


Course date:

Tuesday, June 1, 2004 through Sunday, July 4, 2004



Music M248


Meeting day(s):



Meeting time(s):




MUHL2301-02-03 or permission of instructor


Instructor Information


Dr Christopher Smith




Office location:

Music M203


Office hours:

MTWR 12:00-1:00PM (email for appointment)



806/742-2270 x249



Find a Chris Smith Biography


Teaching assistants:



Course Goals

Course goals:

Developing familiarity with a range of social, cultural, historical, economic, and biographical factors which have shaped American music since the first European colonization. Emphasis upon understanding the interaction of “content” (musical structure, procedure, aesthetics versus agendas, biographies, and writing, etc) and “context” (times-places-peoples from which musical idioms and cultural phenomena originated). Enhance sensitivity to interactions of music and cultural history.

This course will concentrate on music and musical life in the Americas (primarily, due to limitations on scope and time, musics in the United States). We will start with the roots of indigenous and emigrant music, through the Colonial, Federal, Antebellum, Civil War, and Reconstruction periods, tracing the rise of the popular music industry and the creation of an American canon of “great works,” exploring the parallel traditions of popular song, concert music, and indigenous styles, most notably African-American derived. We will study both popular and “classical” music and both composers generally considered to be at the center of the canon of American music and composers and traditions that have been excluded from it. Our theme will be the special problems and cultural issues that have confronted American musicians since the founding of the Republic.


v      By the end of the semester, you should have a framework for understanding what American players and composers have done for the past 400 years, why they did it, and how their musics were constructed.

v      As part of the framework, you should be able to summarize the major traditions and schools of American music, distinguish them from other musics, and show how American solutions to various issues reflect American cultural and musical contexts.

v      As part of the “what,” you will be expected throughout the term to be able to identify the works we study by sight or by ear, up to a reasonable level of proficiency, and to discriminate between the styles of music we concentrate on. You should also be able to identify composers, pieces, and other important names and terms we encounter, to summarize the careers of major composers, and to show a general knowledge of major events and trends in American music.

v      As part of the why, you will be expected to be able to synopsize and critique writings by composers about music, including their own.

v      As part of the “how,” you will be expected to be familiar with some basic tools for analyzing (i.e., taking apart and describing) pieces of music from these periods and traditions. To practice these tools, we will analyze some pieces in class and you will prepare some analyses for class discussion.

v      Finally, you should be able to take new facts and plug them into the framework you have learned, showing that you can apply a general view of American music in your future work.



Required reading:

An Introduction to America's Music, Richard Crawford, Norton, 2001, 0-393-97409-X


Required reading:

To Stretch Our Ears: A Documentary History of America’s Music, J. Heywood Alexander (ed), Norton, 2003, 0-393-97411-1


Required reading:

Recordings for an Introduction to America's Music, (CD Anthology), Sony Special Products, 2003


Course Requirements


This course will include lecture, listening, discussion, readings, a mid-term and final examination, and a reading/listening journal.



Reading and listening
For each class meeting, one or more readings and one or more recordings will be assigned. Readings will be found in the assigned text or in the Course Readings packet; listening material will contained in the CD anthology, along with additional listening available as mp3 files via this WebCT site. It will be essential that students complete the reading and listening assignments prior to the meeting in which they will be discussed.

Both mid-term and final examinations will be administered as qualifying-exam style essay tests. Prior to the test date, a list of 8-10 essay topics to be prepared will be distributed. On the test day, a sub-set of these topics will be distributed to students, who will then select 3-5 topics from that sub-set upon which to write essays. Essays will be expected to refer to readings, listening, and in-class discussion.


v      Exams: 50%

v      Attendance, preparation, and participation: 30%

v      Journal: 20%




Attendance and participation:
Because our time together in class is very limited, it is essential that we make the most efficient and constructive use of that time. Therefore, attendance is mandatory and unexcused absences will be penalized, with adverse effect on final grades.

Medical and other issues affecting course work: Any student who because of a disability may require special arrangements in order to meet course requirements should contact the instructor as soon as possible to make any necessary accommodations. Please Note: Student should present appropriate verification from AccessTECH. No requirement exists that accommodations be made prior to completion of this approved university procedure.

Attendance due to religious observance--The Texas Tech University Catalog states that a student who is absent from classses for the observance of a religious holy day will be allowed to take an examination or complete an assignment scheduled for that day within a reasonable time after the absence.

v      “Religious holy day” means a holy day observed by a religion whose places of worship are exempt from property taxation under Section 11.20, Tax Code.

v      A student who is excused under Section 2 may not be penalized for the absence; however, the instructor may respond appropriately if the student fails to satisfactorily complete the assignment.

Absence due to officially approved trips--The Texas Tech University Catalog states that the person responsible for a student missing class due to a trip should notify the instructors of the departure and return schedule in advance of the trip. The student may not be penalized and is responsible for the material missed.

Please note: It is essential that any student missing a class, for an excused or unexcused absence, should promptly contact classmates and visit the course website to get class notes and catch up with missed work.

It is our experience that students who frequently miss class do poorly or fail. Any day you are late or absent, please get class notes from one or more classmates. You are responsible for knowing what is said in class, including announcements. Instructors cannot take responsibility for filling you in on what you missed.

Academic integrity: It is the student’s responsibility to know and understand Texas Tech University’s policies, procedures, and penalties regarding academic integrity, as discussed in the Code of Student Rights, Responsibilities, and Conduct. Negligence or ignorance of the policy will rarely be accepted as an excuse for violation of the policy. Cheating on examinations or plagiarism or falsification on the research project is likely to result in an F for the course.