Course Information

Course title:

Musics of the African Diaspora


Course number:



Course discipline:



Course description:

MUHL4300/MUSI7000 Musics of the African Diaspora (UG and grad sections meeting concurrently) is a one-semester, topics-oriented historical survey of the history, styles, dissemination, and cultures of music in the African Diaspora, including Africa, the Caribbean, and the Americas. We will pay particular attention to cross-cultural influences, the interaction of tradition and improvisation and of pedagogy and transmission, and the impact of the African Diaspora on music and culture worldwide.

Computer access: Since this course relies heavily on web-based activities, particularly for the delivery of additional multi-media (viewing and listening) material, 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.





Meeting day(s):



Meeting time(s):




MUHL2301/2302/2303 or equivalent


Instructor Information


Dr Christopher Smith




Office location:



Office hours:

MWF 2:00-3:30pm; TR 1-2:30



806/742-2270 x249



Find a Chris Smith Biography


Teaching assistants:



Course Goals

Course goals:

Develop familiarity with a range of African Diasporic genres, from the great African kingdoms of the 16th century, through the slave trade/Middle Passage, the foundation of syncretic music cultures in the Caribbean and South/Central America, the impact of African Diasporic musics in North America, and finally the return of these musical influences to Africa. Expertise in recognizing, analyzing, and comparing Diasporic genres, with an awareness of the significance of cultural contexts, improvisation, orality, and pedagogy in these traditions.



Required reading:

Black Music of Two Worlds: African, Caribbean, Latin, and African-American Traditions, John Storm Roberts, Thomson/Schirmer, 2nd Revised Edition, 1998, 0-02-864929-X


Required reading:

Course Readings, MUHL4300/MUSI7000, Christopher Smith, ed., Available at Copy-Tech, 2004


Required reading:

Black Music of Two Worlds CD Anthology, Schirmer Books, 1998, 0-02-865050-6


Course Requirements


This course will include lecture, listening, discussion, readings, a mid-term and final examination, and a semester-length research project.



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 Roberts text or in the Course Readings packet; listening material will contained in the Roberts 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.

Research project:
Over the course of the semester, each student will develop a thesis, construct a bibliography, create a detailed outline, and finally write a reading text on a research topic in the world of African Diasporic musics. Each student will share this research with the class, in a formal conference-panel presentation, in the final few weeks of class.


v      Exams: 35%

v      Attendance, preparation, and participation: 30%

v      Research presentation: 35%



Additional information:

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.

  1. "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.
  2. 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.