What is the course about?
This course aims to take you on a journey from the beginnings of the music at the turn of the twentieth century and introduce you to the key figures (and unsung heroes!), placing them in a historical context: what they did, who they influenced and why they are important. Using some of their greatest recordings as examples, we will develop a further listening guide.
What will we cover?
- The origins of the music looking in particular at the birthplace of jazz, New Orleans, and the key figures associated with the early New Orleans Style of music in the 1920s including Louis Armstrong, King Oliver, Sydney Bechet and Jelly Roll Morton.
- The Swing era of the 1930s, the heyday of the American Big Band, and move into the 1940s, in which we look post-war at the break up of the Big Bands and the emergence of smaller ensembles and the development of more innovative styles of playing, in particular bebop.
- The 1950s where new styles start to emerge as part of the mainstream, and the 1960s when jazz faced a real challenge due to the popularity first of rock and roll then the emergence of singer-songwriters such as Bob Dylan and the Beatles.
- How the music has evolved through the 70s, 80s and 90s to the present day and some of the key musical groups and figures associated with those different decades.
What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to...
- Have an overview of the development of this highly influential music from its origins in New Orleans through to the present day.
- Distinguish more clearly the different styles of jazz which have evolved decade by decade over the last century and the key figures associated with them.
- Understand better how and why certain musicians were so influential and made such an impact on the music.
What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?
No prior knowledge or skills required, only an enthusiasm for the music! You will need to follow written and verbal instructions in English, engage in class discussions and take notes in English.
How will I be taught, and will there be any work outside the class?
Tutor presentation and explanation, including handouts
Guided listening and watching of audio and audio-visual examples
Class discussion and debate
Listening and reading outside class is encouraged and once enrolled futher online resources will be available via Moodle.
Are there any other costs? Is there anything I need to bring?
Please bring a notebook and pen.
You may wish to buy some of the music or books recommended in class.
When I've finished, what course can I do next?
To find out more about music history classes and to read our year-long selection of courses, please see the blog post Music history: your guide to the 2019/20 programme which lists our full programme of classes ordered by term, and by day of the week. You may then click on each title to read the full course outline.