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MUSC 232

Music in the United States


Instructor: Larry Hamberlin

Office hours: Carr  201, Wed 10–12; MCFA 303, Thurs 10–11;  and by appointment

Phone: x5095


Class meeting times: Tuesday & Thursday, 1:30–2:45 p.m., MCFA 221

In this course we will examine folk, classical, and popular music in the United States from the 18th century to the present. We will use historical and analytical approaches to gain insight into the music, the musicians, and the social and cultural forces that have shaped them. Students will explore music’s relation to historical events, other artistic movements, technological changes, and questions of national identity and ethnicity. Topics include music in the British colonies, minstrelsy, American opera and orchestras, the rise of the popular music industry, and the experimentalist composers of the 20th century.


Course textbooks and resources:

1. Richard Crawford and Larry Hamberlin, An Introduction to America’s Music, 2nd ed. (IAM), pre-publication copy available as pdfs on this course website.

2. Scores and additional readings, available as pdfs on the course website.

3. Sound files for all required listening are posted at the course website.

Exam schedule:

Thursday 9/23:  Exam 1

Tuesday 10/12:  Exam 2

Tuesday 11/2:   Exam 3

TBA:                 Final exam


Group presentations will form the culminating work of the semester; more information about this assignment will be forthcoming.


15%         =       Exam 1

15%         =       Exam 2

15%         =       Exam 3

20%         =       Final exam

15%         =       Final presentation

20%         =       Listening journal/class participation: preparation, discussion

On matters of academic integrity, please consult Middlebury College’s Academic Honesty Statement at

All reading and listening assignments are due on the date they are listed below.

Class schedule and assignments are subject to change at the instructor’s discretion. Updates and new information will be posted on the course website.

Theory help:

“Ricci Adams’” is a useful website for anyone wanting to brush up on basic theory skills and concepts. It has a series of lessons ranging from “What is a staff?” to Neapolitan chords, a series of exercises for self-testing, and a few tools, including a staff paper generator for printing out blank staff paper. Visit the site at and try the first five exercises, set to moderately advanced levels (treble and bass clefs, all key signatures, etc.). If you encounter problems, start working through the relevant lessons.

How to study for this course:

Historical perspective comes from building a repertoire of pieces you know well, not from memorizing abstract “facts.” The best approach, then, is to make your highest priority the study of the specific assigned musical works. Also, when you get to know the music, it’s easy to separate the essentials from the nonessentials in the reading, and you’ll do that work more efficiently. Thus, I recommend the following sequence, which you may choose to modify to suit your own personal learning style.

1. In preparation for each class meeting, listen to the first piece of assigned music for that day, following the listening guide in IAM or the score, when available.

2. Read the assigned chapter in IAM up to the listening guide for the first piece.

3. Listen to the piece again, this time without the listening guide or score. How many points made in the chapter can you relate to what you hear? Write a journal entry (see “Keeping the listening journal,” below).

4. Repeat steps 1–3 for the other assigned pieces, each time reading the portion of the chapter leading up to the listening guide and writing a journal entry for that piece.

5. Read from the last listening guide to the end of the chapter, then briefly review the entire chapter to isolate the main points.

6. Give all of the pieces a third listening, with or without the score. How many points made in the chapter can you relate to the music?

How much time should I spend doing this? College is a full-time job—no more, no less. With careful study habits, you can accomplish much and still have time for extracurricular activities and leisure. That means your four courses per semester should occupy you about 40 hours per week, or 10 hours per course, including time spent in class. Plan to spend three hours preparing for each class; steps 1–4 should fill the first ninety minutes of class prep, leaving steps 5–6 for the second ninety minutes. Three hours of class plus six hours of prep equals nine hours per week. The tenth hour per week can be used for extra study before exams, preparation for in-class presentations, and extra attention to written assignments, as needed.

What if I fall behind? Sometimes we all get behind in our work; what’s important is knowing how to get back on track. In this course, always give your highest priority to the listening. Falling behind in the listening will make all the other work more difficult. At “crunch” times, if something has to give, ease up on the reading. Though not easy, it is possible to cram this material the night before the test. But don’t try to cram the listening that way—it doesn’t work. Remember, when you know the music, it’s easy to separate the essentials from the nonessentials in the reading; you’ll be able to work more efficiently. The opposite (reading first, then listening) is harder.

If you find yourself putting in the hours as recommended above but still not achieving the level of mastery you hope for, do not hesitate to come see me, either during my office hours or at another time (we can set up an appointment via email). I’m here to help you make the most of this learning opportunity.

Keeping the listening journal:

  • Get a non-spiral, non-loose-leaf notebook or blank book in which you can keep a journal of your listening assignments.
  • Each entry should have a heading consisting of the title of the assigned piece and the date.
  • The body of each entry should be a response to the question or questions in the “Listen and Reflect” portion of the listening guide in IAM. Alternatively, you may write about some other issue that the listening brings up for you. A paragraph or two should be enough for each entry.
  • Do not use your journal for classroom note-taking or any other purpose apart from the listening assignments.
  • Bring your listening journal to every class meeting. I will collect them at irregular points in the semester. Grades reflect whether or not the entries are complete and up to date, not whether you have written “right answers” (there aren’t any). It is essential that you keep up with the listening in a timely manner.

Class schedule

Week 1

Tuesday 9/7                  Intro to Course: One People, One Music?

read:     IAM, Introduction

Unit 1. Before 1865

Thursday 9/9                Sacred Music in the European Colonies

read:     IAM, chapter 1

listen:   Anon., “¡O, qué suave!”

Louis Bourgeois, Old Hundred

Anon., “Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah”

Williams Billings, Chester

Johann Friedrich Peter, “Ich will dir ein Freudenopfer thun”

Week 2

Tuesday 9/14                Sacred and Secular Music in the New Republic

read:     IAM, chapters 2 & 3

listen:   Dickinson, “The Liberty Song”

Anon., “Money Musk”

Phile, “Hail Columbia”

Daniel Read, Sherburne

Anon., Wondrous Love

Lowell Mason, Olivet

Thursday 9/16              African American Music before the Civil War

read:     IAM, chapter 4

listen:   West African music, “Adzewa”

Work song, “Carrie Bell”

Lined hymn, “Am I a Soldier of the Cross?”

Ring shout, “Jubilee”

Week 3

Tuesday 9/21                Cultivated Music, Minstrelsy, and Parlor Songs

read:     IAM, chapters 5 & 6

listen:   Dignam, “Helene Schottische”

Gottschalk, “The Banjo”

Anon., “De Boatman’s Dance”

Foster, “De Camptown Races”

Foster, “Jeanie with the Light Brown Hair”

Hutchinson, “Get off the Track”

Root, “Battle Cry of Freedom”

Thursday 9/23              EXAM 1

Unit 2. 1865 to 1918

Week 4

Tuesday 9/28                American Indian Music

read:     IAM, chapter 7

listen:   “A Buffalo Said to Me,” Teton Sioux healing song

“Alligator Dance,” Seneca dance

“Helana,” (Alaska)

“War Dance Song from Southern Plains Indians” (powwow, rec. 1975)

Thursday 9/30              Popular Songs and Marches to 1900

read:     IAM, chapter 8

listen:   Sousa, “Stars and Stripes Forever”

Webster, “Sweet By and By”

Harris, “After the Ball”

Week 5

Tuesday 10/5                Classical Music Comes of Age

read:     IAM, chapter 9

listen:   Beach, Gaelic Symphony, 2d movement

MacDowell, “To a Wild Rose”

Ives, “The Things Our Fathers Loved” (ca. 1918)

Thursday 10/7              Spirituals and Ragtime

read:     IAM, chapter 10

listen:   Trad., arr. Burleigh, “Deep River”

Joplin, “Maple Leaf Rag”

Berlin, “Alexander’s Ragtime Band”

Europe, “Castle House Rag”

Week 6

Tuesday 10/12              EXAM 2
Unit 3. 1919 to 1945

Thursday 10/14 Blues, Gospel, and the Birth of Jazz

read:     IAM, chapters 11 &12

listen:   Bessie Smith, “St. Louis Blues”

Robert Johnson, “Walking Blues”

Dorsey, “Talk about Jesus”

Oliver, “Dippermouth Blues”

Morton, “Sidewalk Blues” (1927)

Ellington, “Black and Tan Fantasy” (1927)

Armstrong, “West End Blues” (1927)

Young, “Lester Leaps In” (1939)

Week 7

Tuesday 10/19              Midterm recess: no class meeting

Thursday 10/21             Musicals and the Classic Popular Song

read:     IAM, chapter 13

listen:   Kern, “Can’t Help Lovin’ That Man” (1927)

Porter, “What Is This Thing Called Love?” (1929)

Berlin, “Cheek to Cheek” (1935)

Rodgers and Hammerstein, “People Will Say We’re in Love” (1943)

Week 8

Tuesday 10/26              Classical and Folk Music before World War II

read:     IAM, chapters 14 & 15

listen:   Cowell, “The Banshee” (1925)

Seeger, “Chinaman, Laundryman” (1932)

Trad., “Gypsy Laddie” (Jean Ritchie)

Trad., “John Henry” (Lomax field recording)

Guthrie, “So Long, It’s Been Good to Know You”

Thursday 10/28 Country Music; Bridging the Classical, the Popular, and the Folk

read:     IAM, chapters 16 & 17

listen:   Carter Family, “Can the Circle Be Unbroken”

Jimmie Rodgers, “Muleskinner Blues”

Bob Wills, “Corrine, Corrina”

Gershwin, “Rhapsody in Blue” (1924)

Trad., arr. Florence Price, “My Soul’s Been Anchored in de Lord” (1937)

Still, Afro-American Symphony, mvt. 1 (1931)

Copland, The Red Pony (1949), excerpt

Week 9

Tuesday 11/2                EXAM 3
Unit 4. Since 1945

Thursday 11/4              Classical Music, Jazz, and Musical Theater after World War II

read:     IAM, chapter 18

listen:   Igor Stravinsky, Ebony Concerto, second movement (1946)

Cage, Sonata no. 2 for prepared piano (1946–48)

Charlie Parker, “Yardbird Suite” (1946)

Miles Davis, “Summertime” (1958)

Leonard Bernstein, “Tonight” (1957)

Week 10

Tuesday 11/9                Folk and Popular Music after World War II

read: IAM, chapter 19

listen:   Bill Monroe, “It’s Mighty Dark to Travel”(1940s)

Hank Williams, “Lost Highway” (1949)

Wynonie Harris, “Good Rockin’ Tonight” (1948)

Chuck Berry, “Rock and Roll Music” (1957)

Pete Seeger, “If I Had a Hammer” (1956)

Bob Dylan, “Only a Pawn in Their Game” (1963)

Thursday 11/11 Folk and Popular Music between 1960 and 1975

read:     IAM, chapter 21

listen:   Beach Boys, “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” (1966)

Santana, “Oye Como Va” (1970)

Merle Haggard, “Mama Tried” (1968)

Dolly Parton, “Coat of Many Colors” (1971)

James Brown, “Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag” (1965)

Gladys Knight and the Pips, “I Heard It through the Grapevine” (1967)

Curtis Mayfield, “Superfly” (1973)

Week 11

Tuesday 11/16              Classical Music, Jazz, and Musical Theater between 1960 and 1975

read:     IAM, chapter 20

listen:   Coltrane, “My Favorite Things” (1961)

Return to Forever, “Hymn of the Seventh Galaxy” (1973)

George Crumb, Ancient Voices of Children, mvt. 4, “Todas las tardes” (1970)

Johnston, String Quartet no. 4, “Amazing Grace” (1973), excerpt

Sondheim, “You Must Meet My Wife” (1973)
Thursday 11/18 Folk and Popular Music after 1975

read:     IAM, chapter 22

listen:   The Dead Kennedys, “California über Alles” (1980)

Grandmaster Flash, “The Message” (1982)

Flaco Jimenez, “Soy de San Luis”

Queen Ida, “Ful il sa”

Klezmer Conservatory Band, “Oy, S’iz Gut”

Ledward Kaapana, “Ku’u Ipo Onaona”

Gillian Welch, “Orphan Girl” (1996)

Week 12

Tuesday 11/23              Classical Music, Jazz, and Film Music after 1975

read:     IAM, chapter 23

listen:   Danny Elfman, Theme from Batman (1989)

Wynton Marsalis, “Devotional” (1994)

Steve Reich, Daniel Variations, mvt. 4 (2006)

Thursday 11/25             THANKSGIVING

Week 13

Tuesday 11/30              Class presentations

Thursday 12/2              Class presentations

TBA                              FINAL EXAM