MUSI 212: History of Jazz Music

Spring 2001, schedule #73716
T Th 12:30-1:45
101 OCH (Old Cabell Auditorium)

Prof. Pete Spaar
Office hours: Friday, 12-2 or by appointment
201 Old Cabell

General Outline:

The first part of the class consists of a Listening Orientation in which basic musical concepts, as well as the special listening skills needed for the study and appreciation of jazz, will be explained and discussed.

The remainder of the course is a historical survey, proceeding chronologically from the origins of jazz at the beginning of the century to the present. Emphasis will be placed on important performers (and associated stylistic schools) and their musical achievements. Social and cultural issues will be discussed wherever relevant.

This course assumes no previous musical knowledge or experience.

This course satisfies the College of Arts and Sciences Area Requirements for "Fine Arts" and "Non-Western Perspectives."


Required at Newcomb Hall Bookstore:

  • The Smithsonian Collection of Classic Jazz, revised ed. (recorded anthology of CDs)

  • James McCalla: Jazz: A Listener's Guide, 3rd ed.

Required at Brillig Books (7 Elliewood Ave.):

  • Course reader, containing xeroxed articles ($32.40)

Recommended (i.e., optional) at Newcomb Hall Bookstore:

  • DeVeaux, The Birth of Bebop: A Social and Musical History

  • Freebridge Quintet, Spanning Time (CD) (John D'earth, trumpet; Jeff Decker, tenor sax; Bob Hallahan, piano; Peter Spaar, bass; Robert Jospé, drums)

Other CDs by members of the Freebridge Quintet available in the bookstore:

  • Robert Jospé/Inner Rhythm, Blue Blaze

  • Jeff Decker, I'll Know

  • John D'earth, Thursday Night: Live at Miller's

Weekly Assignments:

The required reading and listening for the course is divided up into assignments. The reading will be drawn from the required texts. The listening assignments will be made from the required anthology of recordings and from sound files available on the web. You should do the work by or during the week indicated on the assignment.


A significant amount of the course material will be covered only in the classroom. You are responsible for obtaining this material through regular classroom attendance. The instructor reserves the right to consider attendance as a factor in the final grading.


The course may be taken for a grade or for CR/NC. The deadline to choose the grading option is 2 February. A grade of "D" or better is required for Credit under the CR/NC option.

Course Requirements:


  • MIDTERM I: Thursday 1 March, 20% of grade

  • MIDTERM II: Thursday 5 April, 30% of grade

  • FINAL: Monday, 7 May, 2 p.m., 45% of grade

NOTE: The date and time of the final cannot be changed.

Concert Reports, 5% of grade

  • Report #1: due Friday, 9 March

  • Report #2 (and extra credit report): due Friday,27 April

Course Outline:

Listening Orientation:

-- Week of 23 January: Basic Musical Concepts

-- Week of 30 January: Form and Improvisation
Drop deadline: 31 January; Add deadline: 2 February

-- Week of 6 February: Form and Improvisation


Historical Survey:

Early jazz:

-- Week of 13 February: Historical background to jazz; New Orleans style.

-- Week of 20 February: Jazz in the 1920s; Louis Armstrong


-- Week of 27 February: Swing Bands
MIDTERM I: Thursday, 1 March

-- Week of 6 March: Duke Ellington; Kansas City Swing.

-- Week of 13 March: No class (Spring Break)

-- Week of 20 March: Swing Era Soloists
NOTE: Withdraw deadline: 21 March

Jazz 1945-1960:

-- Week of 27 March: Bebop; Thelonious Monk

-- Week of 3 April: Cool jazz
MIDTERM II: Thursday, 5 April

-- Week of 10 April: Hard Bop; Miles Davis (1950s).

-- Week of 17 April: John Coltrane; Charles Mingus


Jazz since 1960:

-- Week of 24 April: Avant-garde Jazz; Miles Davis (1960s); Fusion

-- Week of 1 May: "Neoclassicism" in Jazz; Summing Up (Herbie Hancock and Chick Corea)

FINAL: Monday, 7 May, 2 p.m.