MUSI 212: History of Jazz Music

Spring 2004, schedule #73531

M W 1:00-1:50
Wilson 402

various times, Thursday/ Friday/Monday

Prof. Scott DeVeaux

Office hours:
Monday, 2-3; Thursday, 11-12
208 Old Cabell

Teaching Assistants:
Michael Bishop
David Cosper
Jeff Decker
Nick Rubin
Mary Simonson

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"
    • "Non-Western Perspectives."
  • This course does not satisfy requirements for the major in music.


Required at Newcomb Hall Bookstore:

  • Ken Burns Jazz (5-CD anthology of jazz)

Required at Brillig Books (7 Elliewood Ave.):

  • Course reader, containing xeroxed articles

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 at Plan 9 Records):

  • Robert Jospé/Inner Rhythm, Blue Blaze

  • Robert Jospé/Inner Rhythm, Playing for Time
  • Jeff Decker, I'll Know

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

For detailed guides to these recordings, click here!

Weekly Assignments:

The required reading and listening for the course is divided up into assignments, arranged on a weekly basis. You should do the work by or during the week indicated on the assignment.

Please note that the contents of the Assignments page may change over the course of the semester!


The reading will be drawn from

  • the xeroxed anthology from Brillig Books
  • material on the relevant Assignments page.


The listening assignments will be made from:

  • the required anthology of recordings (Ken Burns Jazz)
  • sound files available on the web.

Because the assignments contain sound files, they are password protected. I will give you the proper password in class.

Given the size of the class, and the finitude of web space, please do not expect to be able to do all of your listening within 24 hours of any examination! (Click here for some hard statistics about MUSI 212 web site use during the Fall of 2002.)

A good deal of the material for this course is available only on the web site, so as above, please expect a certain amount of change during the semester. Some of the changes this semester will involve a shift in the means by which the sound files are delivered.

PLEASE NOTE: The digital files on this course site are intended to be viewed or played by class members only. Any copying or distributing of these files is a violation of copyright law and an Honor offense.

In-Class Attendance:

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, both in the lecture and in the T.A.-led discussion section. The instructor and the T.A. reserves the right to consider attendance as a factor in the final grading.

I expect the lecture to start classes on time, at 1 p.m. By the same token, I expect all students to stay attentively in class until it ends at 1:50 p.m.

Note: students with cell phones should turn them off before entering class.


The course may be taken for a grade or for CR/NC. For those students enrolled in Architecture, College of Arts and Sciences (undergraduate), Commerce, Continuing and Professional Studies (B.I.S. only), or Nursing, the deadline to choose the grading option is February 2. For those enrolled in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, Engineering, or Education, the deadline is January 27. A grade of "D" or better is required for Credit under the CR/NC option. For more information, see the portion of the web site devoted to grading options.

Course Requirements:


  • MIDTERM I: Wednesday, 18 Feburary,15% of the grade

  • MIDTERM II: Wednesday, 31 March, 25% of the grade

  • FINAL: Friday, 7 May, 9 a.m., 40% of the grade

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

Concert Reports, 5% of the grade

  • Report #1: due Friday, 5 March

  • Report #2 (and extra credit report): due Friday, 7 May

Discussion sections: 15% of the grade

Note: the TA-led discussion sections will assign written assignments: these will count toward the grade for the discussion section. The Midterm II and the Final will also include a take-home essay. The question will be distributed a week in advance and due at the time of the test. The scores on your essay will count as one-third of the total score for each examination.

Course Outline for lectures:

Listening Orientation

14 January: Introduction, Basic Musical Concepts

19 & 21 January: Basic Musical Concepts

26 & 28 January: Form and Improvisation
(TBA: Freebridge Quintet, lecture/demonstration)

Wednesday, 27 January: Drop deadline
Friday, 2 February: Add deadline (see exceptions above)--
Last day to change to or from the "Credit/No Credit" option, last day to elect the AU (Audit) option.

Early Jazz:

2 & 4 February: Historical background; New Orleans

9 & 11 February: Jazz in the 1920s; Louis Armstrong

The Swing Era:

16 February: Swing bands: an overview
18 February: MIDTERM I

23 &25 February: Duke Ellington; Kansas City Swing

1 & 3 March: Swing Era soloists

8-12 March: Spring Break

Modern Jazz to 1960:

15 & 17 March: Bebop (Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie); Thelonious Monk

22 & 24 March: Cool jazz; Hard bop

29 March: Miles Davis (1950s)
31 March: MIDTERM II

5 & 7 April: Charles Mingus, John Coltrane

Jazz since 1960:

12 & 14 April: The jazz avant-garde; Post-bop

19 & 21 April: Fusion; historicist jazz

26 April: Summing up

Friday, 7 May, 9 a.m.
(Wilson Hall 402)