Michael L. Masterson, Northwest College (Wyoming)

Because most Music Appreciation textbooks focus on the historical development of Western Art music, the professor who wants to help students find meaning in music of many styles from diverse cultures, including American music, must create his or her own format and develop the necessary materials to support the content. It's quite informative to see how others organize their classes. Dr. Mazullo's creative approach gives me new ideas and affirms many others. For me it's always nice to know others out there are thinking in ways outside the textbook format. Using his model, I too will give a brief overview of some helpful materials I use in my appreciation classes, but first some quick comments about two textbooks out there that I know work.

A colleague in my department also teaches an Introduction to Music class. He likes my approach to the class with its various paperbacks and essays, but prefers a text for the already structured content. When a teaching load is 4-5 courses, time is short. We looked together for a text that taught many kinds of music and that would connect with American students. We found David Willoughby's The World of Music, a McGraw-Hill text, which works quite well in giving students listening experiences and knowledge in a variety of musics. It begins with a discussion of "The Infinite Variety of Music," and follows with American folk, jazz, and popular musics, a great choice for American students who often have very little understanding of their own culture's music and history outside of their own mostly narrow tastes. Willoughby then formally shifts to World Music, and finishes more traditionally with the last chapters giving an overview of Western art music, including American art music. Students are introduced to a wide range of music that connects them better to the diverse people and cultures out there in our Internet connected world. My colleague really enjoys this text.

An American music-oriented text that could also be used in a music appreciation course is Jean Ferris' America's Musical Landscape, also a McGraw Hill publication. This text provides an overview of American musical history from pre-Colonial times to the present and includes American Indian music as well as Latin, African, and European American folk, popular, and art musics. To make it appreciation-oriented, Ferris also provides many definitions of musical terms and musical elements throughout the book. Chapters are short because it squeezes 5 centuries of music into a semester, but it gives a real overview of our musical history. Daniel Kingman's text, American Music: A Panorama, from Schirmer Books, provides more depth of content but does not really suit an appreciation style course, one of Ferris' goals. In my American music course I supplement Ferris' content with more in-depth essays from scholarly journals to give students insight into potential meanings of the music as well as more historical details.

In my own music appreciation course I gather materials from a variety of sources. My over arching goal is for students to discover and articulate meanings from their listenings to a diverse range of musics. I want them to develop tools for listening and understanding music that they can take with them and use for the rest of their lives. To do this we study music's aesthetic sound patterns, expressive metaphors, and cultural connections. No one textbook does the things I want to happen in this course so I use many readings to accompany the listenings and video showings.

Because we focus on repetitive listening and use many art music examples, the first book we discuss is Robert Danziger's well known (in music appreciation circles) paperback, The Musical Ascent of Herman Being from Jordan Press. This funny little fable about the musical expansion of a mythic modern "human" being sets the stage for all the discussions of the semester. Herman learns about the power of repetitive listening to change one's musical frame of reference, the need for a good listening environment, the insights of formal musical study, the importance of friends and their input into discussions of music and life, the notion that contemplation brings the intellect to the musical feeling experience, and the sense that music connects to a context of life experiences. Students are amused by the story and understand clearly that Herman's growth is a model for what should happen to them in the class. Knowing that, they better understand what they need to do and what they will learn.

A paperback useful as a reference resource for musical details, definitions, cultural contexts, and historical development is Ronald Pen's Introduction to Music from McGraw-Hill. It provides succinct and interesting points that help students better understand art music and its European origins and values when we cover Western Art music at the end of the semester.

To gain insights into the life of a musician and to better understand how music, life, and musical experiences can be articulated, I ask my students to read the 1993 best selling novel, Body and Soul, a Delta Trade Paperback, by University of Iowa creative writing professor, Frank Conroy. It's an engaging rags to riches story that follows the fictional Claude Rawlings as he develops from a New York City street urchin in the late 1940s to a musical piano prodigy and composer playing with the world's finest orchestras and musicians in the 1960s. Conroy's ear for writing about music is as good it gets, as he starts on the first page describing the rhythms of people walking by Claude's basement apartment window. His descriptions of subtle musical details, including those of 12-tone theory and sensitive performance feelings, provide fine models of thinking, description, articulation for the students. Best of all it's a fun book to read. It's 450 pages that most students can't put down once they start. Claude Rawlings becomes a real class presence as we frame many in-class discussions about other topics with what went on in Claude's life.

In addition to these books, students also read from a course packet of essays gleaned from various sources such as newspapers, popular magazines, scholarly periodicals, editorial cartoons, compilations of essays, and whatever else seems connected to the course discussions. These readings provide more contemplative insights into music and encourage the group sharing of ideas about current topics in music as well as historical ones. Not having a text allows flexibility and a constant shaping of the course that keeps it from getting stale and allows adaptations to specific classes and their interests.

Our listenings range from pop and jazz, to American Indian music and country, to Copland and European art music, and more. We discuss multiple functions and purposes of music, using Allan Merriam's, Anthropology of Music, as the starting point. In everything we listen to and analyze, we attempt to connect the aesthetic design elements of music like melody, harmony, rhythm, timbre, texture, and form, to the feelings they metaphorically engender, and to their associations and images that connect the musical sounds to their cultural values and contexts. I focus on the metaphor, Music is Life, and organize listenings, along with the other materials and content, to support the notion that cultures shape music and music shapes cultures. This approach acknowledges right away that a person's personal and cultural frame of reference will greatly influence their musical "taste," an important component of American lives that Mazullo mentions in his essay. Students begin to recognize as the course progresses, however, that their musical tastes have been shaped by the culture around them as well as by their own individual choices. "I" and "We" perspectives become better connected. This is an eye-opener for most students, but also helps makes clear that individual frames of reference can be expanded with fresh listening experiences and acquisition of musical and cultural knowledge. Unfamiliar music can become familiar. And understanding what was once unfamiliar music can provide insight into what was once an unfamiliar culture.

I've recently added the new "Exploring the World of Music" videotape series to the course because it does such a beautiful job of aurally and visually bringing diverse, unfamiliar musical cultures to the classroom to explain musical structures and purposes. It treats all musical cultures equally in its examples and so provides a better definition of what kinds of music a college should value. Professor Rauche provides a more detailed review of this series in this newsletter.

In summary, much like Professor Mazullo, I think the music appreciation class provides an opportunity to effect our students' musical and cultural lives, and perhaps even the life of the culture at large. We need to think about what our students should be learning, not what's traditionally been taught, and then design a course that will excite and expand the musical awareness of our students. Let's ponder this. Our undergraduate general education students will likely have one music class. What do we want them to remember and use?


Anita Hanawalt, University of La Verne

Music Appreciation courses are often based on a textbook written by professors trained exclusively in the European music tradition, such as The Enjoyment of Music, by Joseph Machlis and Kristine Forney. In the Preface, Machlis and Forney do not disclose that the musical terms, forms, history and composers discussed all refer specifically to European music. European music is considered to be "music, itself." If any musics outside of Europe are approached at all, they are studied from a European perspective. Non-European musics, including music composed by European women, are delegated to curio "Cultural Perspectives" sidebar exhibits in the margins of the main text.

Professors who have tried to avoid privileging European musics over all other musics, in writing new Music Appreciation texts, such as David Willoughby, have not fully included the contributions of women in music, either. Though Willoughby's text is by far the most inclusive, when considering all comparable texts, The World of Music is still based on the assumption of the centrality of Western "classical" musics. While many musics are considered for study, they are placed in a European context. This text represents an additive stage of culturally pluralistic curriculum transformation, and has yet to fully include women composers in the classical music chapters. For example, all of the composers listed in the outlines preceding the chapters on classical music are men.

On the other hand, texts focusing exclusively on women in music, such as Women and Music: A History, by Karin Pendle, Women in Music: An Anthology of Source Readings from the Middle Ages to the Present, edited by Carol Neuls-Bates, and Women Making Music, edited by Jane Bowers and Judith Tick, have tended toward only slight coverage of musics that are not European. A Music Appreciation text avoiding privileging European musics over all other musics and fully including the contributions of all women in music has yet to appear.

From my experiences at College Music Society workshops and conferences, I know that many professors supplement textbooks with their own materials, to provide a more inclusive study of music for their students. However, many more professors continue to base their courses on texts that define music studies on a mostly European basis. Using these popular textbooks can trap teachers (especially inexperienced ones) into presenting a limited view of music studies, with little or no room to include broader considerations of musics of many genders and cultures.

As a more inclusive alternative to using a text, I have created a Music Cultures course, which introduces music studies without privileging European male musics over all others. Instead of using a text, readings and listening examples are drawn from many sources. All musics are deemed worthy of consideration, challenging the long held tradition that only Western music which has come to be known as "classical" music is worthy of serious study. Aesthetic judgments about many musics can be reached, but only from the basis of a carefully considered knowledge base. Music Cultures also more fully considers the contributions of women in many music cultures, even when those contributions are in supportive roles which have often been overlooked by music historians and ethnomusicologists. By combining the perspectives of feminist musicologists, ethnomusicologists working from a feminist perspective and women who make music in many cultures, students may gain a more complete knowledge of women in music.

The Music Cultures course will be presented in more detail at the CMS Annual Meeting in Toronto (November 5, 2000) as part of a "Curricular Issues Panel: Questioning the Canon's Authority." Readings for each of the four units in the Music Cultures course are listed below.

Unit 1: Varieties of Musical Expression

Contemplating Music: Challenges to Musicology, by Joseph Kerman, Introduction, pp. 11-30.

My Music, by Susan D. Crafts, Daniel Cavicchi, Charles Keil, and the Music in Daily Life Project; Foreword, by George Lipsitz, pp. ix -xix; Introduction, by Charles Keil, pp. 1-3; Appendix: Music in Daily Life Guidelines, pp. 211-213.

What is Art For? by Ellen Dissanayake, Introduction, pp. 3-10.

Unit 2: The Nature of Music

Searching for memory: the brain, the mind, and the past, by Daniel Schacter, Introduction: Memory's Fragile Power, pp. 1-11.

Music, The Brain, and Ecstasy: How Music Captures Our Imagination, by Robert Jourdain Introduction and Chapter One: From Sound..., pp. xi-29.

Frames of Mind, by Howard Gardner, Chapter 1: The Idea of Multiple Intelligences, pp. 3-11, and Chapter 6: Musical Intelligence, pp. 99-127.

Harmonies of Heaven and Earth, by Jocelyn Godwin, Part One, Chapter One: The Marvelous Effects of Music, pp. 2-36.

Unit 3: Musical Meanings

Why Are There No Great Women Artists? By Linda Nochlin in Women in Sexist Society, ed. Vivian Gornick and Barbara Moran.

Cecilia Reclaimed: Feminist Perspectives on Gender and Music, ed. Susan C. Cook and Judy S. Tsou, Introduction: Bright Cecilia, pp. 1-11.

Worlds of Music, by Jeff Todd Titon, Chapter 1:The Music-Culture as a World of Music, pp.1 -12.

Music in the Dialogue of Cultures: Traditional Music and Cultural Policy, ed. Max Peter Baumann, The Ethnomusicologist as Midwife, by Carol E. Robertson, pp. 347-362.

Black Noise: Rap Music and Black Culture in Contemporary America, by Tricia Rose, Chapter 2: All Aboard the Night Train: Flow, Layering, and Rupture in Postindustrial New York, pp. 21-61.

Musicking: The Meanings of Performing and Listening, by Christopher Small, Prelude: Music and Musicking, pp. 1-18.

Pianos and Politics in China, by Richard Curt Kraus, Chapter 1: Cosmopolitan Culture at Capitalism's Periphery, pp. 3-39.

Unit 4: "Art" Music and the Academy

Whose Ethnomusicology? Western Ethnomusicology and the Study of Asian Music, by J. Lawrence Witzleben, in Ethnomusicology, 41(2), Spring/Summer 1997, pp. 220-241.

Keeping Score: music, disciplinarity, culture, ed. David Schwarz, Anahid Kassabian, and Lawrence Siegel, Introduction: Music Disciplinarity, and Interdisciplinarity, by Anahid Kassabian, pp. 1-10.

Comparative musicology and anthropology of music: essays on the history of ethnomusicology, ed. Bruno Nettl and Philip V. Bohlman, Introduction, by Bruno Nettl, pp. xix-vii, and Epilogue, by Philip V. Bohlman, pp. 356-360.

Ethnomusicology and modern music history, ed. Stephen Blum, Philip V. Bohlman, and Daniel M. Neuman, Prologue: Ethnomusicologists and Modern Music History, by Stephen Blum, pp. 1-20; Epilogue: Paradigms and Stories, by Daniel M. Neuman, pp. 268-277.

Heartland Excursions: Ethnomusicological Reflections on Schools of Music, by Bruno Nettl, Chapter 3: A Place for All Musics?, pp. 82-111.

Music and Society: The politics of composition, performance and reception, ed. Richard Leppert and Susan McClary, Foreword: The ideology of autonomous art, by Janet Wolff, pp. 1-12.


Anthony T. Rauche, University of Hartford

When I first saw a video sample from Exploring the World of Music I was impressed for several reasons. First, there was the diversity of music examples. That was a great starting point for discussion of contrast and comparison between, and among, music cultures from around the world. Second, as a video, there was a visual component as well! One could see the music being created, look at the instruments and singers to see how they performed, and if only in a limited way, observe the cultural and performance context from which the music arises. And third, I saw in this new series a good way to restructure how I presented my own classes and observations.

Exploring the World of Music debuted in 1999 as a new television series and telecourse, ". . .an introduction to music from a world music perspective." Funded by the Annenberg/CPB Multimedia Collection, this series was created and produced by Pacific Street Films with the Educational Film Center. In addition to the videotapes, there is a Reader's Guide (Dorothea E. Hast, general editor, with James R. Cowdery and Stan Scott), a Faculty Manual prepared by Diane U. Eisenbergboth available from Kendall/Hunt Publishing, and a three CD/cassette set of all the music examples. (The only quirky observation I have is that for the Little G minor Fugue by Bach, the organist is not identified. In a series that takes great care establishing and emphasizing equality and respect for all music and musicians, why would this one performer be left out of the picture?) The Faculty Manual provides learning objectives, key points and a lesson overview for each video, as well as multiple choice and true-false questions. The Readers Guide has study questions at the end of each chapter, and two appendices on western notation and the western harmonic system, a glossary, and a list of referenced and additional sources mentioned in the text.

The organization of the all the material is reflected in the title of each video: Sound, Music and the Environment; The Transformative Power of Music; Music and Memory; Transmission: Learning Music; Rhythm; Melody; Timbre: The Color of Music; Texture; Harmony; Form: The Shape of Music; Composers and Improvisers; and Music and Technology. While most of these are typical, the first four establish a comprehensive format that follows throughout the last eight videos, thus providing a new organization and new content for standard music topics.

Let's consider volume four in particular, Transmission: Learning Music. This video begins with a discussion of how music might be learned in formal settings, and in less formal arrangements. The viewer observes learning gospel music through the "layering" process as vocal lines are added. A saxophonist discusses how jazz performers learn classic solos from recordings, and even might consider musicians they've heard but never met as teachers. Notation is discussed as a written guide, including Chinese ch'in tablature, along with Japanese shamisen, and North Indian tabla. The video ends with a western piano lesson on the music of Chopin. In the Reader's Guide there is plenty of additional material to continue with any one of these topics, plus some key terms such as acculturation and enculturation.

For most classes there is probably more than enough in this video to explore the world of music learning. This is true for the other volumes as well. Some might complain that there is too much, and that the broad strokes of each video are apt to foster an unwieldy discussion response among students. (Now wouldn't that be a wonderful problem on a regular basis?) There is also the question of detail, and rather than claim that as a weakness of this series let me suggest that is precisely where the teacher needs to lead. Yes, there are some details given for some of the music examples presented, but in almost every case I could imagine an instructor building on the material presented, or using that as a springboard for an closely related example, adding more details or enhancing a particular perspective. For example, I have used excerpts from volume two, The Transformative Power of Music, in my music appreciation course and in an interdisciplinary course on African American Arts. The discussion of the personal and communal power of Gospel Music and the connection of "song" with the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s have been exceptionally useful for my students. We teach what we know, and coming back to a familiar recurring set of references throughout a course will serve only to strengthen the broader view and lead students to a deepening and refinement of their perceptions about music.

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Last modified on Wednesday, 01/05/2013

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