Introduction to Ethnic Music--African

MUS 166-001



Dr. Rob Bridge




OFFICE HOURS: Posted on my door and on the web



COURSE DESCRIPTION: A study of African music and its influence on other cultures, including Middle East, South American, Caribbean, and North American/European music.


Understand pertinent historical and cultural contexts;

Analyze the relationships (and tensions) between oral and written culture;

Investigate the uses of improvisation in both music and literary texts;

Discuss polyrhythms, polyphony, multiple voices, community, and the ongoing conversation with the ancestors;

Interrogate the participation of non-blacks in the black aesthetic;

Explore issues related to plagiarism and sampling: authorship, ownership, copyright, and fair use;





  1. African Rhythm and African Sensibility, John Miller Chernoff
  2. Cuba and Its Music: From the First Drums to the Mambo, Ned Sublette





Papers: All assignments are expected on the date they are due. However, under extenuating circumstances, you may turn in work one class session after the due date with no penalty.


Listening: Listening assignments can be completed on Angel or with the CD you purchase for class.  Please allow yourself time each week to prepare the necessary listening assignments.


Grading Procedure: Grades are divided into homework, quizzes and tests.


Homework & Quizzes 25%

Exams/Papers 75%


Grades for papers – the first papers will be graded on content, organization and development of ideas ONLY; the remaining papers will receive grades based on: content, organization, development of ideas, grammar, mechanics, and format.  Though assignments will differ, the papers are meant to be cumulative in that you will keep building on the same ideas with the knowledge of each new course unit. (See the MUS 166 Paper Grading Rubric)


Attendance: Perfect attendance will add 5 points to your final grade.  Attendance is taken at the beginning of each class.  If you are tardy, you must see me at the end of class to be marked in attendance.  3 late arrivals will be counted as one absence.


Office Hours: will be posted on my door, on the web, and can also be arranged by appointment.  Please feel free to contact me about any class related issues.  I am also very good about checking e-mail (see address above.)



NOTE: The Writing Skills Center in Room A-349 is open every day (M-F) from 9:00 A.M. to 3:30 P.M. Most students think of the Center as a place to go only when they are having some problem with their writing, but in fact, professional tutors can help you at any step in the writing process—from the brainstorming stage (before you ever set pen to paper) to the editing stage of the very final, final draft. If at any point in the semester, I refer you to the WSC to work with a tutor, it simply means your writing could benefit from some extra sessions. The very best writers rely on others for feedback, so none of you is exempt. If I refer you to the WSC and you fail to go, I'll urge you--strongly--to drop the course.


CLASS CANCELLATIONS:  Call 498-2300 to check if class has been cancelled.


RECOMMENDATIONS:  If you need a letter of recommendation at some point in the future, please set up an appointment to come discuss the letter with either or both of us so that the letter can be tailored to your specific needs and purposes. Also be sure to allow plenty of lead time, and try to avoid “crunch” periods--e.g., at mid-semester and during the last 2 weeks of class.


Anyone with special learning needs, please be sure to let me know immediately and bring me copies of your paperwork from the OSSN.



Reading Assignments

Listening Area


Dr. Bridge's Home Page