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MUS2071 : Jazz Today: Tomorrow Is The Question

  • Offered for Year: 2021/22
  • Module Leader(s): Dr William Edmondes
  • Lecturer: Mr Stewart Smith, Ms Greshauna Sanders, Mr Jason Holcomb
  • Owning School: Arts & Cultures
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 1 Credit Value: 10
Semester 2 Credit Value: 10
ECTS Credits: 10.0


- To provide students with a thorough working knowledge of how Jazz has evolved as a global culture since 2000, combining a critical study of the music’s developments in the USA, Europe, Africa and the Far East with the experience of making music in ways that relate to lecture content.

- To give students the opportunity to apply the insights and understandings from lectures, seminars, screenings and personal research on literature and repertoire to a hands-on practical encounter with challenges defined by cultural, socio-economic and political dynamics of the contemporary music context.

Outline Of Syllabus

- A series of 10 lectures across two semesters introduce students to the recent history, repertoire and criticism of Jazz as distinct from the manner in which its music and culture have been subject to a deeply engrained systemic racism that trivialises its meaning and purpose through the reinforcement of crude stereotypes and diverts focus away from the music’s vital contemporary relevance and ongoing influence.

- A series of 8 practical seminar workshops will place students into four groups to apply the insights and understandings from lectures to actual ensemble/group playing – discussing the music and its meaning through music itself as opposed to the traditional approach of reading texts in the abstract and discussing them.

- 2 seminars, one toward the end of each semester, where four groups (differently composed from the playing groups) reflect on and discuss the core dynamics of their experience and learning so far.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture102:0020:00PiP. If necessary these can be delivered asynchronously online.
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching82:0016:00Interdisciplinary seminars. PiP. These can take place synchronously online if required.
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching21:002:00Seminars. PiP. Can be delivered synchronously online if required.
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching101:0010:00Drop-in surgery. PiP. Can be delivered synchronously online if required.
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study1152:00152:00N/A
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Through an innovative approach to combining historical-cultural, critical-theoretical study, discussion and research (lectures and independent study) with the experience of applying their accumulated insights and understandings to actual playing in groups, students will gain a much more thorough grounding in the aesthetics and meanings of contemporary Jazz and how they relate to key political contexts (including Black Lives Matter, class conflict and the global rise of populist right wing politics) in a post-imperial, post-colonial world. Rationale for exceeding 33 contact hours relates to the practical, performative engagement element in this module.

Assessment Methods

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

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay2A803,000 words
Portfolio2M20Ensemble performance, presentation or video (ca.10min) collaborative in groups. Students submit individual commentaries (500 words).
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

Both modes of assessment will reflect the extent to which the student has engaged with the course materials as a means to developing more nuanced and informed insights into how Jazz functions today, its relevance to broader social and cultural issues and narratives and its relationship to its own roots and traditions and the wider culture. The more practically oriented portfolio/presentation/video is conceived to assess these same elements but from the point of view of engaging in certain performative dimensions of the same subject matter; performance itself will not be assessed as strictly ‘performance’ in the manner of those modules that assess technical ability and instrumental virtuosity. Rather, engagement in the group-performance dynamic and the ways it attends to prevalent concerns (as discussed in lectures) will guide the examiners’ assessment. The portfolio can be completed remotely with video.

Reading Lists