Analysis of Jazz and Popular Music
Please note: The schedule of assignments below has been adjusted. Be ready to resume our discussion of the assigned readings when the University reopens.
Special Topics: MUSI 4397, section 26128
office: MSM 112 (713) 743-3318
TTh 10:00 - 11:30
Course Description: How can listening, transcription, and analysis enrich our understanding of jazz and popular music? We will study works from jazz and popular repertoires from perspectives of music theory, performer interaction, and meaning in social/historical context. Students will study assigned readings, prepare transcriptions “by ear” for analysis, and complete three research/analysis papers in areas of popular music where they have particular interest. Class meetings will take the form of a seminar, without formal lectures. Preparation and readiness to contribute in each class discussion is the student's responsibility.
Required readings and listening assignments are available through UH Blackboard.
Grading and Policies
Class participation / assignments
Papers (3 x 25%)
Last day to drop without a grade: September 6. Last day to drop or withdraw: October 31.
UH Policies on Academic Honesty can be found online at: http://www.uh.edu/provost/policies/uhhonesty_policy.html. Students with disabilities are asked to bring to the instructor's attention any special accommodations they may require.
Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) can help students who are having difficulties managing stress, adjusting to college, or feeling sad and hopeless. You can reach CAPS (www.uh.edu/caps/) by calling 713-743-5454 during and after business hours for routine appointments or if you or someone you know is in crisis. Also, there is no appointment necessary for the “Let's Talk” program, which is a drop-in consultation service at convenient locations and hours around campus. http://www.uh.edu/caps/outreach/lets_talk.html.
Selected E-books available through the UH Library (login required):
Cooke, Mervyn and David Horn, ed. 2003. The Cambridge Companion to Jazz
Everett, Walter. 2008. Foundations of Rock: From "Blue Suede Shoes" to "Suite - Judy Blue Eyes"
Frith, Simon, Will Straw and John Street, eds. 2001. The Cambridge Companion to Pop and Rock
Waters, Keith. 2014. The Studio Recordings of the Miles Davis Quintet, 1965-68
Williams, Justin A, ed. 2015. The Cambridge Companion to Hip-Hop
Williams, Katherine and Justin A.Williams, eds. 2016. The Cambridge Companion to the Singer-Songwriter
Womack, Kenneth, ed. 2016. The Cambridge Companion to the Beatles
Subject to change. Please check back for updates.
Listen to every song discussed in the readings, especially any you are less familiar with.
I. Gender, Identity, and "Voice" in popular music
1. Kruse, Holly. 1999. “Gender” in Key Terms in Popular Music and Culture. Edited by Bruce Horner and Thomas Swiss. Blackwell, pp 85-95.Blackboard
2. Burns, Lori and M. Lafrance. 2002. Disruptive Divas: Feminism, Identity, and Popular Music. Routledge Press. Blackboard
3. Frith, Simon. 1996. Performing Rites. Oxford University Press. Chapter 9, pp. 183–202. Blackboard
4. Lafrance, Marc and Lori Burns. 2017. "Finding Love in Hopeless Places: Complex Relationality and Impossible Heterosexuality in Popular Music Videos by Pink and Rihanna.” Music Theory Online, 23.2. http://www.mtosmt.org/issues/mto.17.23.2/toc.23.2.html
5. Burns, Lori, Alyssa Woods and Marc LaFrance. 2015. "The Genealogy of a Song: Lady Gaga's Musical Intertexts on The Fame Monster (2009)." Twentieth-Century Music 12.1, pp. 3–35 Blackboard
6. McClary, Susan. 2000. Conventional Wisdom. Chapter 2, "Thinking Blues." University of California Press. Blackboard
7. Clarke, Eric. 2005. Ways of Listening: An Ecological Approach to the Perception of Musical Making. Oxford University Press, Chapter 5 excerpts. Blackboard
8. Moore, Allan F. 2005. “The Persona-Environment Relation in Recorded Song.” Music Theory Online, 11.4. http://mto.societymusictheory.org/issues/mto.05.11.4/toc.11.4.html
9. Koozin, Timothy. 2015. "Irony, Myth, and Temporal Organization in the Early Songs of Bob Dylan" in This is the Sound of Irony: Music, Politics and Popular Culture, ed. Katherine Turner. Ashgate. Blackboard
10. Rings, Steven. 2013. “A Foreign Sound to Your Ear: Bob Dylan Performs 'It’s Alright, Ma (I’m Only Bleeding),' 1964–2009.” Music Theory Online, 19.4. http://www.mtosmt.org/issues/mto.13.19.4/toc.19.4.html
11. Koozin, Timothy. 2007. “Fumbling Towards Ecstasy: Voice Leading, Tonal Structure, and the Theme of Self-Realization in the Music of Sarah McLachlan” in Expression in Pop-Rock Music: A Collection of Critical and Analytical Essays, ed. Walter Everett. Garland. Blackboard
II. Harmony, Form, Counterpoint, and Gesture in Pop and Rock Music
1. Everett, Walter. 2004. “Making Sense of Rock's Tonal Systems.” Music Theory Online 10.4. http://mto.societymusictheory.org/issues/mto.04.10.4/toc.10.4.html Study Questions
2. Biamonte, Nicole. 2010. “Triadic Modal and Pentatonic Patterns in Rock Music.” Music Theory Spectrum 32.2:95-110. Blackboard
3. Koozin, Timothy. 2011. "Guitar Voicing in Pop-Rock Music: A Performance-Based Analytical Approach." Music Theory Online 17/3. http://www.mtosmt.org/issues/mto.11.17.3/mto.11.17.3.koozin.php
4. Attas, Robin. 2015. "Form as Process: The Buildup Introduction in Popular Music." Music Theory Spectrum 37. Blackboard
5. Nobile, Drew F. 2015. "Counterpoint in Rock Music: Unpacking the 'Melodic-Harmonic Divorce.'" Music Theory Spectrum 37. Blackboard
6. Covach, John. 2013. "Leiber and Stoller, the Coasters, and the 'Dramatic AABA' Form" in Sounding Out Pop: Analytical Essays in Popular Music, ed. Mark Spicer and John Covach. University of Michigan Press.
III. Jazz Studies
1. Burns, Lori. 2005. “Feeling the Style: Vocal Gesture and Musical Expression in Billie Holiday, Bessie Smith, and Louis Armstrong.” Music Theory Online 11.3: http://mto.societymusictheory.org/issues/mto.05.11.3/mto.05.11.3.burns.html Study questions
2. Folio, Cynthia. 1995. “An Analysis of Polyrhythm in Selected Improvised Jazz Solos.” Concert Music, Rock, and Jazz Since 1945: Essays and Analytical Studies, ed. Elizabeth West Marvin and Richard Hermann. University of Rochester Press, 103–34. Blackboard Study questions
3. Givan, Benjamin. 2016. “Rethinking Interaction in Jazz Improvisation.” Music Theory Online 11.3: http://www.mtosmt.org/issues/mto.16.22.3/toc.22.3.html
4. Rusch, René, Keith Salley, and Chris Stover. 2016. "Capturing the Ineffable: Three Transcriptions of a Jazz Solo by Sonny Rollins.” Music Theory Online 11.3: http://www.mtosmt.org/issues/mto.16.22.3/toc.22.3.html
5. Martin, Henry. 2012. Charlie Parker and "Honeysuckle Rose": Voice Leading, Formula, and Motive. Music Theory Online 18.3: http://mtosmt.org/issues/mto.12.18.3/mto.12.18.3.martin.php Study Questions
6. Larson, Steve. 2006. “Rhythmic Displacement in the Music of Bill Evans.” Structure and Meaning in Tonal Music: A Festschrift for Carl Schachter, ed. Poundie Burstein and David Gagne. Hillsdale, NY: Pendragon Press, 103–122. Blackboard Study Questions
7. Waters, Keith. 1996. “Blurring the Barline: Metric Displacement in the Piano Solos of Herbie Hancock” Annual Review of Jazz Studies 8, pp. 19-37.
9. Folio, Cynthia and Robert W. Weisberg. 2006. “Billie Holiday's Art of Paraphrase: A Study in Consistency.” In New Musicology (Interdisciplinary Studies in Msicology) Poznan, Poland: Poznan Press, 247–75.
IV. Performer Interaction and the Groove
1. Butterfield, Matthew W. 2010. “Variant Timekeeping Patterns and Their Effects in Jazz Drumming.” Music Theory Online 16.4. http://mto.societymusictheory.org/issues/mto.10.16.4/toc.16.4.html
2. Butterfield, Matthew W. 2006. “The Power of Anacrusis: Engendered Feeling in Groove-Based Musics.” Music Theory Online 12.4 http://mto.societymusictheory.org/issues/mto.06.12.4/mto.06.12.4.butterfield.html Study Questions
3. Benadon, Fernando. 2007. “A Circular Plot for Rhythm Visualization and Analysis.” Music Theory Online 13.3. http://mto.societymusictheory.org/issues/mto.07.13.3/toc.13.3.html
4. Garcia, Luis-Manuel. 2005. “On and On: Repetition as Process and Pleasure in Electronic Dance Music.” Music Theory Online, 11.4. http://mto.societymusictheory.org/issues/mto.05.11.4/toc.11.4.html Study Questions
5. Butler, Mark. 2006. Unlocking the Groove: Rhythm, Meter, and Musical Design in Electronic Dance Music. Indiana University Press (selections)
V. Studies in Varied Styles
1. Covach, John. 2003. "Pangs of History in Late 1970s New-Wave Rock" in Analyzing Popular Music, ed. Allan F. Moore. Cambridge University Press. Blackboard
2. Neal, Jocelyn R. 2007. “Narrative Paradigms, Musical Signifiers, and Form as Function in Country Music.” Music Theory Spectrum 29.1: 41-72. Blackboard
3. Everett, Walter 2013. "The Beatles as Composers: The Genesis of Abby Road, Side Two" in Sounding Out Pop: Analytical Essays in Popular Music, ed. Mark Spicer and John Covach. University of Michigan Press. Blackboard
4. Everett, Walter. 2004. "A Royal Scam: The Abstruse and Ironic Bop-Rock Harmony of Steely Dan." Music Theory Spectrum 26. Blackboard
5. McDonald, Chris. 2009. Rush: Rock Music and the Middle Class, selections. Indiana University Press.
Week 1, August 22-24 (Please be ready to discuss all these readings when classes resume, following the hurricane closure.)
Begin the first three Part I readings (Gender, Identity, and "Voice"). Be ready to discuss issues of identity and "voice" as discussed in the readings. Consider how the readings might apply is discussing a song you choose to study. The Burns reading lays out categories of "content analysis" that are useful. Also, listen for the chord patterns in the song you select and see how they may relate to Everett's six classifications of tonal systems in rock.
Begin the first of the jazz readings by Lori Burns: Feeling the Style: Vocal Gesture and Musical Expression in Billie Holiday, Bessie Smith, and Louis Armstrong. Music Theory Online 11/3 (September 2005). http://mto.societymusictheory.org/issues/mto.05.11.3/toc.11.3.html Study Questions
WRITTEN ASSIGNMENT: Write a short essay (two full pages, double-spaced) on one song of your choice, making use of ideas and methodologies employed in the assigned readings. Your objective is to write a thoughtful essay on the song that demonstrates your understanding of the readings. Include some transcription rendered by ear, to support your essay. Due Thursday, September 7. (Due date is extended to Thursday, September 14.)
Week 2, August 29-31
Begin the the two articles under Part I 4 and 5 above by Burns, LaFrance & Woods. What do the readings tell us about the music (and video) of Lady Gaga, Pink, and Rihanna? Be ready to explain how the authors develop a social and cultural context for their close study of music and video. Can you enlarge the discussion by connecting concepts in the readings to other music you know? (Be ready to discuss these readings on Thursday, September 7.)
Complete first written assignment for thursday (September 7). (Paper due date is extended to Thursday, September 14.) Wrap up Everett reading and the first five readings on Gender, Identity, and "Voice". Next, we continue with a group of readings on jazz.
Week 3, September 5-7 (Discussion of readings may be postponed into week 4.)
Folio, Cynthia. 1995. “An Analysis of Polyrhythm in Selected Improvised Jazz Solos.” Concert Music, Rock, and Jazz Since 1945: Essays and Analytical Studies, ed. Elizabeth West Marvin and Richard Hermann. University of Rochester Press, 103–34. Blackboard Study questions
Givan, Benjamin. 2016. “Rethinking Interaction in Jazz Improvisation.” Music Theory Online 11.3: http://www.mtosmt.org/issues/mto.16.22.3/toc.22.3.html
Rusch, René, Keith Salley, and Chris Stover. 2016. "Capturing the Ineffable: Three Transcriptions of a Jazz Solo by Sonny Rollins.” Music Theory Online 11.3: http://www.mtosmt.org/issues/mto.16.22.3/toc.22.3.html
Turn in first written assignment. (Due date is extended to Thursday, September 14.)
Week 4, September 12-14 (Discussion of readings may be postponed into week 5.)
Selections from Waters, Keith. 2014. The Studio Recordings of the Miles Davis Quintet, 1965-68. Assignment TBA.
Week 5: September 19-21 Click here for GROUP PROJECT ASSIGNMENT
Please note: Lecture Series presentation by Michael Klein has been CANCELLED.
WRITTEN ASSIGNMENT: Bass line transcription, due Thursday, September 28: Transcribe the bass line for a pop song of your choice. Write in chord symbols to form a lead sheet for the essential patterns in the song. Add Roman numerals and/or other analytical markings. Write a half-page of observations concerning rhythm, chord patterns, form, and/or lyrics.
Week 6: September 26-28
Continue with Butterfield. Bass line transcription assignment due Thursday.
Harmony in Rock:
Koozin. Guitar Voicing in Pop-Rock Music: A Performance-Based Analytical Approach MTO
Biamonte. Triadic Modal and Pentatonic Patterns in Rock Music Blackboard
FIRST PAPER ASSIGNMENT. DUE THURSDAY, OCTOBER 5. Focus on an aspect of rhythm in a song of your choice. Your five-page paper should include:
- A transcription rendered "by ear" of the bass line, chords, and vocal melody for essential material in the song.
- A five-page essay that explores performer interaction and meaning in the song through a focused study of rhythm. The essay should clearly draw upon aspects of out assigned readings.
- Come to class ready to discuss your work in progress.
Not yet updated for fall 2017:
Week 7: October 3-5
Clarke, Eric. 2005. Ways of Listening: An Ecological Approach to the Perception of Musical Making. Oxford University Press, Chapter 5 excerpts. Blackboard
Allan F. Moore. 2005. The Persona-Environment Relation in Recorded Song. Music Theory Online, Volume 11/4. http://mto.societymusictheory.org/issues/mto.05.11.4/toc.11.4.html
Luis-Manuel Garcia. On and On: Repetition as Process and Pleasure in Electronic Dance Music. Music Theory Online, Volume 11/4 (October 2005). http://mto.societymusictheory.org/issues/mto.05.11.4/toc.11.4.html Study Questions
Week 8: October 10-12
Continue with assigned readings. Begin work on Second Paper.
Weeks 9-11: October 17-19; October 24-26; October 31. No class Thursday, Nov. 2
Discuss new paper topics, returned papers, and readings
Thursday, October 24: In-class midterm essay on readings
Henry Martin. Charlie Parker and "Honeysuckle Rose": Voice Leading, Formula, and Motive. Music Theory Online 18.3 (2012). http://mtosmt.org/issues/mto.12.18.3/mto.12.18.3.martin.php Study Questions
(optional for now, but recommended) Larson, Steve. 2006. “Rhythmic Displacement in the Music of Bill Evans.” Structure and Meaning in Tonal Music: A Festschrift for Carl Schachter, ed. Poundie Burstein and David Gagne. Hillsdale, NY: Pendragon Press, 103–122. Blackboard Study Questions
SECOND PAPER ASSIGNMENT: Analyzing the Groove. In this five-page essay with transcribed musical examples, focus in particular on the rhythmic nuances of performer interaction in a song of your choice. Consider issues of expressive microtiming (drawing from the Butterfield reading). How might performers' strategic choices for subdivision of the beat create specific qualities of directed motion? Consider also how musical gestures may create an embodiment of human action that is coded with expressive meaning (discussed in Koozin guitar article). Think about ways that the layering of instruments may have form-developing functions (following the Spicer reading). Be on the lookout for polyrhythm (as discussed by Folio).
- As you develop your essay and transcriptions, be ready to discuss and sing/play your material in class.
- Due Tuesday, November 7.
No class Thursday, Nov. 2. Please watch for assignment
Weeks 10-11, November 2-12: Wrap up Burns and Larson readings. Begin final paper.
- As you develop the paper, be ready to discuss and demonstrate (vocally, with guitar or piano, etc.) the musical elements you are studying.
- Briefly explain within the paper how the goal of the paper relates to a personal/professional goal involving jazz/pop music.
- As before, the paper should make some use of transcription, with score rendering and analysis of what you hear in the music.
- Integrate assigned class readings and/or other source readings in developing your approach. Provide appropriate citations in the paper.
- Be ready at each class meeting to contribute aspects of your paper in our class discussion. You will receive two grades on the paper: one for the written document and one for your class contributions. Each student will offer a presention, beginning by November 17. Presentation should include the following: (1) A preparatory assignment for the class, to get everybody familiar with your topic; (2) Essential discussion of the specific elements you are studying in your paper; (3) An analytical sketch and transcription; (4) some musical element that you present through example by playing and/or singing.
- As you prepare, be ready to help one another collaborate on performance aspects of your final paper music. Share your ideas and skills in exploring an aspect of how the music is played and/or sung. Be ready to report on your results to the class.
- Final draft of paper is due Thursday, December 10, noon. Papers should be turned in at the Music Office or sent to me by email.
This week: Post a message at our Blackboard blog indicating the song you are working on for your final paper. Also, share your thoughts about choosing an album that might be a good one for us to study together.
Week 12, November 17-19
Be ready to discuss your final paper work in progress.
New readings and assignments TBA.
Final Papers are due Thursday, December 10, noon. Papers should be turned in at the Music Office or sent to me by email.
ADDITIONAL READINGS AND RESOURCES
Music Theory Online articles on popular music
Lori Burns. Feeling the Style: Vocal Gesture and Musical Expression in Billie Holiday, Bessie Smith, and Louis Armstrong. Music Theory Online 11/3 (September 2005). http://mto.societymusictheory.org/issues/mto.05.11.3/toc.11.3.html
Lori Burns and Alyssa Woods. Authenticity, Appropriation, Signification: Tori Amos on Gender, Race, and Violence in Covers of Billie Holiday and Eminem, Music Theory Online 10/2 (June 2004). http://mto.societymusictheory.org/issues/mto.04.10.2/toc.10.2.html
Lori Burns, Marc Lafrance, and Laura Hawley. Embodied Subjectivities in the Lyrical and Musical Expression of PJ Harvey and Björk. Music Theory Online 14/4 (December 2008). http://mto.societymusictheory.org/issues/mto.08.14.4/toc.14.4.html
Fernando Benadon. A Circular Plot for Rhythm Visualization and Analysis, Music Theory Online 13/3 (September 2007). http://mto.societymusictheory.org/issues/mto.07.13.3/toc.13.3.html
Matthew W. Butterfield. The Power of Anacrusis: Engendered Feeling in Groove-Based Musics. Music Theory Online 12/4 (December 2006). http://mto.societymusictheory.org/issues/mto.06.12.4/toc.12.4.html
Walter Everett. Making Sense of Rock's Tonal Systems. Music Theory Online, Volume 10/4 (December 2004). http://mto.societymusictheory.org/issues/mto.04.10.4/toc.10.4.html
Luis-Manuel Garcia. On and On: Repetition as Process and Pleasure in Electronic Dance Music. Music Theory Online, Volume 11/4 (October 2005). http://mto.societymusictheory.org/issues/mto.05.11.4/toc.11.4.html
Timothy Koozin. "Guitar Voicing in Pop-Rock Music: A Performance-Based Analytical Approach." Music Theory Online 17/3 (October 2011). http://www.mtosmt.org/issues/mto.11.17.3/mto.11.17.3.koozin.php. (Note: This volume includes nine articles on musical form in rock.)
Allan F. Moore. The Persona-Environment Relation in Recorded Song. Music Theory Online 11/4 (October 2005). http://mto.societymusictheory.org/issues/mto.05.11.4/toc.11.4.html
Volume 18.3, September 2012 includes four jazz analysis articles.
Odds and Ends: More material we may explore as time allows. Not required at this time.
Larson, Steve. 2006. “Rhythmic Displacement in the Music of Bill Evans.” Structure and Meaning in Tonal Music: A Festschrift for Carl Schachter, ed. Poundie Burstein and David Gagne. Hillsdale, NY: Pendragon Press, 103–122. eReserve
Burns, Lori. 2005. “Feeling the Style: Vocal Gesture and Musical Expression in Billie Holiday, Bessie Smith, and Louis Armstrong.” Music Theory Online 11/3: http://mto.societymusictheory.org/issues/mto.05.11.3/mto.05.11.3.burns.html
Rhythm and meaning in funk music: Please listen to this short list of pieces and be ready to discuss what you hear. I'll share some material from a paper I presented at the Experience Music Project in Seattle. Examples. Listening:
James Brown, Get Up Offa That Thing http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pq1w0syylZI
Average White Band, Cut the Cake http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t96syG4-Li8
Tower of Power, What is Hip? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VUFxj59Fa9o
Jimi Hendrix, You Got Me Floatin' http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6hvM8nbj6Bw
Article by Watson & Burns on the Dixie Chicks, Popular Music (2010) eReserve
Assignment for listening and analysis: The Beatles, Abbey Road
1. Select one or several tracks for detailed listening. What do you find most interesting about the song, in terms of…
- material and structure (melody, chords, rhythm, form, arrangement, etc.)
- performance elements (how the music is played, sung; it embodied expression)
- its qualities as a recording (how the studio is used as a creative tool; how human expression comes through in a fixed commercial recording)
2. The album overall: How do the Beatles unify the album overall while expressively resisting values of structural unity?
Two famous writings on the aethetics and social-political consequences of audio recording:
Walter Benjamin, “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction.” (1936)
Theodor Adorno, “The Form of the Phonograph Record” (1934), trans. Thomas Y. Levin.
CLASS LIST of YOUR PICKS for listening and analysis.
Maintain a notebook of observations and analysis on the songs discussed by you and your classmates. This notebook is due on the last day of class, Monday, May 2. Outline format for each song is ok. Your grade will be based on depth (richness of detail) and breadth (all the music discussed).
More readings in specific genres of popular music
Garcia, Luis-Manuel. 2005. “On and On: Repetition as Process and Pleasure in Electronic Dance Music.” Music Theory Online, 11.4. http://mto.societymusictheory.org/issues/mto.05.11.4/toc.11.4.html Study Questions