Recorded Music Histories
|373RMH||credit||2||2 lecture hours (45 min) of instruction per week, 32 to 42 hours of self-study||English||winter|
Name of lecturer(s)
A listening class of 100 years of musics and their audiences through an analysis of recording and distribution, practices and technologies. Using recordings and readings, this course will give insights on the diversity of global music. The premises of our class are the stories of music from the mid 1920’s advent of the electric era in recording technology to our digital present. We’ll listen to and discuss how music has been produced, distributed, received and accepted in diverse audiences and societies. Neither a comparative musicology course, nor a class in ethnomusicology, rather a course in listening to and exploring the technological basis for a diversity of musics, many not widely known outside their own local geographies.
Listening and discussion is accompanied by occasional video segments. PDF’s are sent out weekly and students are encouraged to do web research on their own. Musical examples are tied to weekly readings. Each music is referred to through its traditions, recording methods and carrier. Using a music appreciation model we’ll listen to an extraordinary range of sounds towards an understanding based not just on rhythm, melody, harmony and timbre but with a strong orientation on evolving socio-economic, religious and cultural practices and of course referring to issues of colonial imperialism and representation.
Distribution follows from format, which determines audience. In the US, at their inception, 78RPM records were sold in furniture stores as a sideline to the sale of the 78 cabinet player; In Niger today, young people listen to recorded music exclusively on their mobile phone’s microdrives. Along the way the 45RPM, LP, cassette, home or car or portable radio, CD, MP3/digital file, YouTube or digital streaming services such as Spotify have all been carriers or transmitters in reception histories. Where has all this music been recorded and by who? Why? How? Most importantly for whom? Have local audiences had access?
Understand how music genres may evolve over time depending on societal evolutions, technical innovation and through the music's recording methods.
Understand basic recording history from a technical point of view
Understand the changing range of techniques that have characterized audio capture, reproduction and distribution systems.
Understand similarity and difference across geographically discrete musical genres.
Understand the musical systems inherent in a broad range of genres created without equal temperament, with non-western tuning systems, seemingly uncategorizable meters and rhythms, timbral extremes, pioneering recording techniques.
Understand the rudimentary concepts of audio preservation and archiving.
Understand changing aspects of piracy, specifically in the Global South.
Express themselves sufficiently to characterize and describe musical genres beyond their own.
Prerequisites and other requirements
This long bibliography provides the source material for much of the class. These texts are all available upin request, with certain short excerpts being required reading:
Agawu, Kofi, Representing African Music, 288 pages, Routledge (2003), ISBN-13: 978-0415943901
Bradley, Lloyd, Bass Culture: When Reggae Was King, 592 pages, Penguin, (2001) ISBN-13: 978-0140237634
Booth, Gregory, Behind the Curtain: Making Music in Mumbai's Film Studios, 336 pages, Oxford University Press, (2008) ISBN-13: 978-0195327649
Clinton, George, Brothas Be, Yo Like George, Ain't That Funkin' Kinda Hard On You?: A Memoir, 416 pages, Atria Books (2017), ISBN-13: 978-1476751085
Cox, Christoph, & Warner, Daniel (eds.) Audio-Culture, Readings in Modern Music, 664 pages, Bloomsbury Academic, 2nd edition (2017) ISBN-13: 978-1501318368
Counsel, Graeme, Mande Popular Music and Cultural Policies in West Africa: Griots and Government Policy since Independence, 304 pages, VDM Verlag (2009), ISBN-13: 978-3639153057
Eckstein, Lars & Schwarz, Anja (eds.), Postcolonial Piracy: Media Distribution and Cultural Production in the Global South, 316 pages, Bloomsbury, (2014) ISBN 978-1-4725-1943-6
Edmonds, Ben, Marvin Gaye: What's Going On and the Last Days of the Motown Sound, 296 pages, Canongate (2003), ISBN-13: 978-1841953144
Emerick, Geoff & Massey, Howard, Here, There and Everywhere: My Life Recording the Music of the Beatles, 400 pages, Avery, (2007), ISBN-13: 978-1592402694
Eriksson, Maria, Spotify Teardown: Inside the Black Box of Streaming Music, 288 pages, MIT Press (2019), ISBN-13: 978-0262038904
Garcia, David, Listening for Africa, Freedom, Modernity, and the Logic of Black Music’s African Origins, 376 Pages, Duke University Press (2017), ISBN: 978-0-8223-6370-5
Grubbs, David, Records Ruin the Landscape: John Cage, the Sixties, and Sound Recording, 246 pages, Duke University Press (2014), ISBN-13: 978-0822355908
Goldsmith, Peter, Making People's Music, Moe Asch and Folkways Records, 468 pages, Smithsonian (1998), ISBN-13: 978-1560988120
Lock, Graham, Blutopia: Visions of the Future and Revisions of the Past in the Work of Sun Ra, Duke Ellington, and Anthony Braxton, 330 pages, Duke University Press (2000) ISBN-13: 978-0822324409
McPhee, Colin, A House in Bali, 224 pages, Periplus Editions (original edition 1940, new edition 2000) ISBN-13: 978-9625936291
Milner, Greg, Perfecting Sound Forever: An Aural History of Recorded Music, 416 pages, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, (2010), ISBN-13: 978-0865479388(2010)
Nettle, Bruno, The Study of Ethnomusicology: Thirty-Three Discussions, 576 pages, University of Illinois Press, (2015), ISBN-13: 978-0252039287
Petrusich, Amanda. Do Not Sell At Any Price: The Wild, Obsessive Hunt for the World's Rarest 78rpm Records, 288 pages, Scribner, (2015) ISBN-13: 978-1451667066
Sterne, Jonathan, The Audible Past: Cultural Origins of Sound Reproduction, 472 pages, Duke University Press Books, (2003), ISBN-13: 978-0822330134
Sterne, Jonathan, MP3: The Meaning of a Format (Sign, Storage, Transmission), 358 pages, Duke University Press, (2012), ISBN-13: 978-0822352877
Stewart, Gary, Rumba on the River: A History of the Popular Music of the Two Congos, 400 pages, Verso (2004), ISBN-13: 978-1859843680
Sublette, Ned, Cuba and Its Music, 688 pages, Chicago Review Press, (2007) ISBN-10:1556526326
Sublette, Ned, The World That Made New Orleans: From Spanish Silver to Congo Square, 368 pages, Lawrence Hill Books (2009), ISBN-13: 978-1556529580
Szwed, John, Alan Lomax: The Man Who Recorded the World, 448 pages, Penguin Books, (2011), ISBN-13: 978-0143120735
Szwed, John, Space Is the Place: The Lives and Times of Sun Ra, 476 pages, Pantheon, (1997), ISBN-13: 978-0679435891
Veloso, Caetano, Tropical Truth: A Story of Music and Revolution in Brazil, 368 pages, Knopf, (2002), ISBN-13: 978-0375407888
Watson, Ben, Derek Bailey and the Story of Free Improvisation, 459 pages, Verso, (2013), ISBN-13: 978-1781681053
Witt, Stephen, How Music Got Free: A Story of Obsession and Invention, 320 pages, Penguin Books; Reprint edition (2016), ISBN-13: 978-0143109341
Wondrich, David, Stomp and Swerve: American Music Gets Hot, 1843–1924, 256 pages, Chicago Review Press, (2003) ISBN-13: 978-1556524967
The Garland Encyclopedia of World Music in 10 volumes, The SAGE International Encyclopedia of Music and Culture in five volumes, and Bloomsbury's Encyclopedia of Popular Music of the World in 12 volumes are all available and searchable in online versions.
Evaluation methods and criteria
Create two annotated Spotify or YouTube playlists (min.12 musical selections with min. 50 words per descriptive annotation).
Write a 4 page research paper on a topic agreed between instructor and student, including discography, bibliography and webography or create a podcast with similar information and music.
This course is an elective for all AMU students
Schedule for winter semester 2023/2024:
Schedule for summer semester 2023/2024:
The schedule has not yet been prepared