Study Abroad and Exchanges



MUS3181 : Music of the Southern States (Inactive)

Semester 1 Credit Value: 10
Semester 2 Credit Value: 10
ECTS Credits: 10.0


•       To gain a historical perspective and critical understanding of the musics of the Southern States of the USA
•       To further familiarise students with a range of analytical techniques and critical approaches
•       To investigate the relationships and differences between musical genres in the Southern States
•       To investigate how musical forms related to issues of race, culture and modernity
•       To study in some detail, individually and comparatively a number of examples taken from the 19th- and 20th-century Southern music

Original Summary:
The musical developments that have taken place in the Southern States of the USA, stemming from the syntheses of European and African musical elements, have had a profound effect on the musics of the world. This module will provide an overview of this amazing musical melting pot, looking at varioust styles and idioms, and trying to understand the ways in which these different yet related musical forms evolved and nourished the development of popular music. The course will cover the development of the blues and country music, pre-jazz and early jazz as well as less well-known areas such as Cajun and Zydeco music, old-timey music and bluegrass. Preparation and work will include extensive listening and viewing of videos as well as reading and research.

We will consider the origins of modern Southern styles during the colonial, slavery, reconstruction and post-reconstruction periods; particular attention will be paid to the period 1900-1960 and some more recent developments will be considered, such as the use of Southern music in films. Specific musical examples will be viewed in their particular historical contexts and change through time will be studied. Analytical, critical and comparative approaches to the different kinds of music will be employed.

Outline Of Syllabus

Music in the old South; the Roots of the Blues; European importations and musical instruments of the South; Old Timey Music and the Origins of Commercial Country; Minstrelsy and Popular Music, Pre- and Early-Jazz; Development of the Blues, 1920s-1960s; the Development of Country Music; the Origins of Elvis; Southern Music since the 1950s;

In semester two students are asked to prepare group presentations and seminar contributions on a variety of specified themes which should, in all cases, relate to an example of recorded music of c. 3 minutes duration, exploring its significance in the development of Southern music, its historical context and musical content. (Groups will usually consist of three students).

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture122:0024:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching62:0012:00Seminars
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study1164:00164:00N/A
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Lectures introduce the issues, examples and theories that facilitate critical understanding. Seminars provide opportunities for presentations and group discussion to test understanding and to rehearse critical approaches for the independent research essay or project.

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Description Length Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Oral Presentation101A5Qualitative Feedback
Oral Presentation102A5Qualitative Feedback
Aural Examination102A30N/A
Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Written exercise2A60Essay or project of 2,500-3,000 words or equivalent
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The listening test examines overall engagement with the module and ability to construct answers in response to aural materials. The oral presentation allows students to demonstrate their abilities to engage with musical materials and comment on them insightfully. The essay or project allows the student to pursue an area of particular interest. Both presentation and essay/project allow students to explore the nature of relationships between musical forms and their wider contexts.

Oral presentations will also take place in semester 2 but will not form a percentage of the formal assessment.

Reading Lists