Evolution of Jazz in America

Berea College

Fall 2004

The Evolution of Jazz in America is an introduction to the historical, theoretical, and critical elements of Jazz, combined with direct experience with creation. Primary to this study is a survey of the stylistic and historical elements of jazz, and an historical analysis of influential jazz composers and jazz performers, presented within the context of various cultural and arts movements, which occurred in the Africa, Europe, and the United States. The course also involves aural analysis of musical performances and influential compositions from each of the primary jazz styles or periods.

Central to the course is the study is of the influence of Africa music, African American performers and composers, and the African American experience as it relates to the evolution of the new jazz art form. Class presentations include lecture, seminar discussions and presentations, musical examples, video presentations, oral presentations, class demonstrations, special performance or research projects, student research-group presentations and individual student research presentations. The course is designed for non-music majors. Prerequisite: none.


Upon completion of this course each student will demonstrate an understanding of the following:

An historical understanding of jazz.
Know the definition of jazz
Know definition of primary jazz styles
A creative aspect of listening
Listening techniques
Know the basic elements of music. Demonstrate the ability to describe jazz styles through aural analysis
Aural recognition of Jazz Styles
Roles of the instruments and vocalists
Song construction

Know about improvisation. Know about the role of creativity in jazz improvisation. Know about the improviser's skills, training, and the historical background of improvisation.

The historical development of jazz, from early pre-jazz influences to the present
Fundamental jazz terminology. (Be able to discuss and write about jazz music in a clear and concise manner, using fundamental jazz and music terminology).
How jazz has been influenced by musical and cultural influences, including European, African, and African-American influences.
The cultural importance of Jazz. Jazz's influence on other art media, including popular music, art music, theater, literature, dance, and art
Influential composers and performers of jazz
Identify important jazz musicians and describe their significance in jazz history
How to conduct field research and library research on specific jazz topics, including important jazz performers and composers, the various styles of jazz, cultural and musical influences on jazz, and jazz influence of contemporary art forms.


Comprehension of aspects of a jazz performance
Understanding of the historical styles of jazz.
Understanding of the cultural and sociological influences, which influenced the evolution of jazz
Understand the influence of jazz on other art forms and our culture
Comprehension of the major styles and innovators of jazz
Understanding and appreciation of the jazz improviser
Identification of jazz music structures
To gain the ability and desire to continue listening to, learning from, and attending live jazz performances



You will be expected to take notes and save handouts, which must be kept in a three-ring notebook. I will read the notebooks during the weekend before Finals.

Group Presentation

Students will form study-groups for the purpose of preparing and presenting an oral presentation pertaining to a style of jazz. In addition to the oral presentation each group will prepare an annotated bibliography. (guideline and schedule will be provided)

Final Paper/Project

For the final project, each student will conduct research on a selected musician (approved by the instructor). The project will culminate in a short oral presentation and a research paper consisting of a published interview of a jazz musician, historical study of the musician's life and music (or general style category), and a review of the musician's music (style). You must include a conclusion in which you discuss the musician's influence or legacy. The paper must include a proposal, outline, introduction/body/conclusion, and bibliography.

A list of suggested subjects and a guideline & schedule will be provided.


Because of the collaborative aspect of the course students are expected to attend all classes and will be responsible for all material covered in each class. Students may make up assignments if the absence is excused in advance. Excessive tardiness and absences will result in the lowering of your grade.

Method of Evaluation (Student_

Quizzes. Written and aural. 400 pts
Daily classroom attendance, notes, and participation. 60 pts
Film reviews 50 pts
One page typewritten paper describing attended performances (two performances...(Convos, BME, Jazz Ensemble) 40 pts
Reading Assignments and Written assignments. 100 pts
Group research project and presentation (style of jazz) 100 pts
Final research project and presentation (jazz performer or composer) 150 pts
Final. Written and Aural 100 pts

TOTAL 1,000 pts

900-1000 = A

800-899 = B

700-799 = C

600-699 = D

500-599 = F

The final grade evaluation will be based upon the following

Exams include multiple choice/matching questions, as well as listening questions based on assigned CD examples


Since tests and exams include a listening component, which require one hour to administer quizzes may not be made up. Your lowest test score will be dropped. The missed quiz would become your lowest test score.

Late Assignments

Late assignments will not be accepted after 5:00 p.m. of the due date.

Emailed assignments will not be accepted.

Available Resources

You are encouraged to take advantage of available resources (additional sources, readings, listening materials, and concert opportunities) in order to enhance your enjoyment of the class and to increase the likelihood of successful completion of the requirements of this course.

Sources (for written assignments)

Books, encyclopedias and dictionaries, magazine articles, CDs, films will be accepted.

Web-sites listed on the course website (Hutchins Library) will be accepted.


Concise Guide to Jazz 4th ed. by Mark C. Gridley and accompanying CDs


Three ring Loose-leaf Notebook for notes and handouts

Library Reserve:

Course Bibliography page - Hutchins Library - Page

Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians (Hutchins Reserve)

Grove Dictionary of Jazz (Hutchins Reserve)

Ken Burns Jazz CD Collection

Living with Jazz CD Collection by Frank Tirro

Living With Jazz by Frank Tirro

Jazz by Frank Tirro

Jazz: A History of America's Music by Ward/ Burns

Music in the New World by Charles Hamm

Jazz Bibliography by Dr. Anne Rhodes

(Berea College Music Dept Web Site)

Selected Recordings (complete list will be provided)

REQUIRED CONCERTS: You must attend two. You must write a report about each

performance. You will be provided with a guideline sheet

You may choose from:

Jazz Convocations

Berea College Jazz Ensemble Concert

Black Music Ensemble Concerts

Site Section: 
Resource Type: 
Jazz by Geography: 
Additional Keywords: 
African American music, African music, bibliographies, European jazz, improvisation, introductory jazz course, jazz history, jazz studies, syllabi