Alongside GIRI’s recurring focus on vertically-integrated research methodologies and outputs, this iteration of the course surveyed key moments in the circulation of black American music in the wake of emancipation and the birth of the recording industry, which roughly coincided with the Reconstruction era and the rise of Jim Crow laws in the post-Civil War United States. As such, the course began with vaudeville, the emergence and development of blues and their associated recording practices (phonograph/gramophone recordings), through key movements in jazz (e.g. New Orleans/Dixieland, Swing, Bebop) and its global spread at the dawn of mass media (radio). From there, we returned to the direct blues lineage, with the development of rhythm & blues, rock & roll, and soul, each of which increasingly came to rely on magnetic tape and multitrack recording technologies as essential to their production. Finally, the course turned to hip hop, house and techno; all with origins in mostly African-American subcultures that increasingly relied on personal access to music technologies; including turntables, samplers, drum machines and synthesizers. While the course centered African-American music and musicians, it wasn’t exclusively about them. Rather, it was about the exchanges between these musical traditions and global culture through cultural and technical integration, appropriation, and migration. These historical shifts were contextualized through the lens of technical developments in sound reproduction, distribution and circulation, from the 1870s phonograph to the rise of global music streaming platforms in the early 2010s.
Crosslisted as: AAAS 425, ECON 436, POLSCI 425, SOCIOL 442, RIGHTS 444