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Jazz + Culture

By Department of History College of Liberal Arts & Sciences, Arizona State University

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This course provides a survey of the cultural reaction to jazz from its emergence as a distinct form of music in the first decades of the twentieth century to its inclusion in the intellectual academy as an accepted form of music in the last decades of the twentieth century. Through the study of texts and music, the course hopes to provide students with a sense of how both jazz and its audiences evolved over the century. While some consideration will be given to jazz as it was experienced in Europe and the rest of the world, the main focus will be on how jazz developed in the United States. Because the concern is to connect jazz styles with other contemporary cultural phenomena, coverage will decline after 1970, by which time most of the styles presently maintained had come into existence.

Customer Reviews

A good series

I happened across this lecture series and am glad I did. It's not only about jazz, but about American history and the role of jazz in American culture. One of the other reviewers mentioned the lectureres "stammering, stuttering, false starts," etc. There were a few stammers, but didn't find any of that problematic or distracting at all, and the lecturer is also passionate about the subject, insightful, and doesn't sound as if he's reading from lecture notes. The sound quality, however, is at times poor.

Great lessons about culture

It's important to remember that this class is about jazz AND culture. I learned a lot about jazz and the culture it created and the culture it was created from. I had never thought of the interesting connections between WWII, for example, and jazz. Another example was the fascinating lesson about the role of the record producer in defining certain sounds and styles. He's a passionate and interesting teacher.

Great content, wonderful professor, no music, no course materials

Use "Get all" because no new new classes are being posted for this 2006 course.

The Jazz + Culture course was very interesting and I learned a ton. It is obviously a labor of love by the Professor. I was sorry when it ended. It was fun sampling or buying music to which he referred. It's incredible that this great course is free.

The instructor Professor Andrew Barnes is a great guy and a jazz fan. (Thank you Prof. Barnes!) He shares stories from his own life, but not too many. He recorded this in December 2006 in a studio or office, not a classroom with students. He sometimes stutters and sometimes coughs into the mic (which would have been so easy to edit out!) , but the audio is very clear.

He sets the cultural and historical stage for each phase of jazz. He tells you what the musicians were trying to express. He has a lot of great stories about the musicians. It feels like you're hanging out with a guy who has a million great stories (with structure), not at all like a class.

He refers to assigned readings and to a listening list that are not included in the iTunes course, nor are they posted on the ASU website. He expected the students to subscribe to an online service that made a huge listening library available for a monthly fee. At first knowing that there is a list but we don't have it is frustrating. Eventually it draws you in because it means that you as a listener need to be more involved by remembering (if you're driving) or noting the pieces and CDs to which he refers. The books are by Shaprio/Nat Hentoff (probably Hear Me Talkin' to Ya: The Story of Jazz As Told by the Men Who Made It) and Robert Walser (probably Keeping Time: Readings in Jazz History). These are books of jazz readings. We don't have the list of assigned reading, but it would not be too difficult to approximate if you have the the books (I don't, but I hope to read them both).

The audio does not include any music at all, but he regularly refers to the pieces that he gave as assigned listening. It is possible to listen in iTunes to samples of the artists that he mentions, and that is helpful. It would be great to have the listening list for this class. Maybe some dedicated listeners who figure the lists out from listening (or an ASU student or Prof. Barnes) will post the listening and reading lists as reviews here. iTunes needs to manage these details of iTunes U a little better.

The "Get info" page for the lectures gives a date of 2009, but Prof. Barnes says in one lecture that he is recording it in December 2006. So it was probably first available as ASU History 306 in Spring, 2007.

Anyway, it's very entertaining and enlightening. The price is sure right compared to a Great Courses class.