Effective: Late Spring 8-Week, 2018/2019

MUSI 323: Music Of The United States

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  Course Description

Overview of the various types of music that have evolved through the folk, popular, and classical traditions in America from the Pilgrims to the present.

Prerequisite: None

Proctored Exams: Midterm



  • Ferris, Jean. America's Musical Landscape (with 3 CD Set). 7th. Boston, MA: McGraw Hill, 2014.  
    • ISBN-978-1-259-68108-0
      • Note: (Book and 3 CD Set)

MBS Information

Textbooks for the course may be ordered from MBS Direct. You can order

For additional information about the bookstore, visit http://www.mbsbooks.com.

  Course Overview

This course will serve as an introduction to the folk, popular, and classical traditions in America, from the Native American Indian antecedents, through the earliest American colonists, and continuing chronologically to the start of the twenty-first century. The aims of our study will be to gain a comprehensive understanding of the development of America's diverse music culture and to develop a basic appreciation for the multitude of music traditions (Moravian, Latino, African, British, Continental European, and Oriental) that, along with a multitude of other cultures) that have come to form our uniquely American musical landscape. America's earliest notable achievements in music began with the self-taught amateurs of the First New England School and later continued with the developments of jazz, the Broadway musical, Tin Pan Alley, rock and roll, along with a specifically American concert music repertoire. The music genres, music styles, and the repertoire that defines American music will be our primary focus. Each week we will focus on a different aspect of American music with listening examples, class discussion, and other activities that will help us understand the issues, and the nature of American music.

  Technology Requirements

Participation in this course will require the basic technology for all online classes at Columbia College:
  • A computer with reliable Internet access
  • A web browser
  • Acrobat Reader
  • Microsoft Office or another word processor such as Open Office

You can find more details about standard technical requirements for our courses on our site.

  Course Objectives

  • To relate American music to its foreign roots where appropriate.
  • To understand the interaction of “content” (musical structure, procedure, aesthetics versus agendas, biographies, and writing) and “context” (times-places-peoples) from which musical idioms and cultural phenomena originate.
  • To develop familiarity with a range of social, cultural, historical, economic, and biographical factors which have shaped American music since the first European colonization.
  • To become familiar with the music and chant traditions of North American Indians.
  • Explain the styles and genres of music that are specifically American, such as the fuging tune, Sousa marches, Ragtime, Jazz, the Broadway musical, and rock.
  • Demonstrate an ability to appreciate, if not to enjoy, all types of American music.

  Measurable Learning Outcomes

  • Summarize the major traditions and schools of American music distinguishing them from other music.
  • Identify composers, compositions, and other significant names and terms as they relate to the music studied.
  • Identify the studied compositions by sight or ear.
  • Differentiate among the various styles of music studied.
  • Summarize the careers of major American composers and musical figures.
  • Display general knowledge of major events and trends in American music and describe how American solutions to various issues reflect American cultural and musical contexts.
  • Synthesize and critique writings by some American composers about music.
  • Encounter new American music styles and categorize them into the general context of American music.


Grading Scale

Grade Points Percent
A 522-580 90-100%
B 464-521 80-89%
C 406-463 70-79%
D 348-405 60-69%
F 0-347 0-59%

Grade Weights

Assignment Category Points Percent
Discussions (14) 140 24%
Dropbox Essay Assignment (3) 60 10%
Quizzes (3) 60 10%
Midterm Exam (1) 160 28%
Final Exam (1) 160 28%
Total 580 100%

  Schedule of Due Dates

Week 1

Assignment Points Due
Discussion 1 10 Thursday
Discussion 2 10
Dropbox Essay Assignment 1 20 Saturday

Week 2

Assignment Points Due
Discussion 3 10 Thursday
Discussion 4 10
Dropbox Essay Assignment 2 20 Saturday
Proctor Information N/A Sunday

Week 3

Assignment Points Due
Discussion 5 10 Thursday
Discussion 6 10
Quiz 1 20 Saturday

Week 4

Assignment Points Due
Discussion 7 10 Thursday
Midterm Exam (proctored) 160 Sunday

Week 5

Assignment Points Due
Discussion 8 10 Thursday
Discussion 9 10
Quiz 2 20 Saturday

Week 6

Assignment Points Due
Discussion 10 10 Thursday
Discussion 11 10
Dropbox Essay Assignment 20 Saturday

Week 7

Assignment Points Due
Discussion 12 10 Thursday
Discussion 13 10
Quiz 3 20 Saturday

Week 8

Assignment Points Due
Discussion 14 10 Thursday
Final Exam: Part 1 60 Saturday
Final Exam: Part 2 100
Total Points: 580

  Assignment Overview


Discussion topics are weighted equally toward your final grade. Each will be worth a set number of points, assigned on the basis of the thoroughness of your discussion. For example, a score of 100% will receive 10 points, a 90 - 99% correct answer percentage will receive 9 - 9.9 points, 80 - 89% will receive 8 – 8.9 points, 70 - 79% will receive 7 – 7.9 points, etc. If your score is below 60% you will be asked to redo the assignment, and will be graded based upon the average of the first and second submissions.

Two (2) responses in each discussion are required to receive full credit. You may make additional responses, but you will not receive additional credit for them. Do use the spell check feature in D2L before submitting. As mentioned above, there are generally two discussion topics each week, for a total of 20 points, which equals 4% of your final grade. Discussions are due by Thursday at 11:59PM Central Time.


Quizzes are due in weeks 3, 5, and 7 should be completed by Saturday at 11:59pm Central Time. Each quiz will consist of 20 multiple choice questions.

Dropbox Essay Assignments

Dropbox Essay Assignments should be completed by Saturday at 11:59 PM Central Time. The purpose of the essays is to help me assess your comprehension and understanding of the course materials, so please use your book as a resource when writing the essays. Additionally, you are encouraged to use your fellow students’ comments in the weekly discussions to write your own essays; we learn from each other in this course. Always remember that essays are formal academic documents and should be written in paragraph format and demonstrate your best professional writing style. Each essay should be at least 350 words in length, which is the minimum amount of material I feel I need to be able to properly assess the work you have done. The maximum number of words should not exceed 1,000 words. If outside sources are used, you must include a works cited page.


The midterm and final exams are not cumulative. Each exam will consist of two parts. These two major exams are essentially expanded, in-depth weekly essays; they should represent the new knowledge and perspective you have gained over the preceding weeks by participating in the Discussion and through your weekly readings.

Midterm Exam (Proctored): Completion of the Midterm Exam will require locating a suitable proctor, see Proctor Policy below. The Midterm exam will consist of 60 multiple choice questions and two essays question. Each essay must be 3 to 4 paragraphs in length. The exam must be completed between Tuesday and Sunday at 11:59 PM Central Time of Week 4.

Final Exam (Not Proctored): Final exam Part 1 will consist of 60 multiple choice questions completed in the Quizzes area of the course. Part 2 consists of two (2) expanded, in-depth essays. Completed essays should be submitted to the Final Exam Dropbox by Saturday at 11:59 PM Central Time.

  Course Outline

Click on each week to view details about the activities scheduled for that week.

Readings and Listening
Read the Preface, Introduction, the section on The Basic Properties of Musical Sound, pp. xvi-xx and pp. 1-10. CD Listening Example 1, the folk song “John Henry.”
Discussion 1
Introduce yourself in the "Introductions" topic in the Discussions area of our course. Please give us more than your name. Include your profession, major and year of studies, hobbies, interest in music, and any musical background you may or may not have, so that we get to know each other. Please post your introduction by Thursday at 11:59 PM Central Time (CT).
Discussion 2
Define American music. What is it that allows us to describe a music composition, style, or tradition as American? A complete discussion should be at least 2 paragraphs in length and you must respond to at least two discussions posted by your fellow classmates. Discussions imply an exchange of ideas among class participants; otherwise, discussions, no matter how good they are individually simply end up being monologues. Please post your discussion and two responses by Thursday at 11:59 PM CT.
Dropbox Essay Assignment 1
Dropbox Essay 1 is an orientation exercise and asks you to read and then describe all 6 “Part Summaries” found at the end of the major sections of our textbook: Part 1, p. 69; Part 2, p. 123; Part 3, pp. 226-227; Part 4, p. 293; Part 5, pp. 354-355; Part 6, pp. 414-415. Also read “The Charge” at the end of the textbook on p. 416. This essay is due by Saturday at 11:59 PM Central Time. Assignment information, requirements, guidance, and rubric are available in the Content area of the course.
Readings and Listening
Read Part 1, Chapters 1 and 2: pp. 20-27 and pp. 28-43. Also read the background information on pp. 12-19. Listen to CD Listening Examples 2-10.
Discussion 3
After reading Chapter 1, describe the music style characteristics of North American Indian music that make it so distinctive. Study the purple charts on pages 22 and 23 describing the Genre, Timbre, Melody, Texture, Form, Rhythm, and Text before writing this discussion. Listen to CD 1, listening examples 2 and 3. Next do an online search and see what information you can find about the music North America Indians of today. What influences in modern American life have affected Native America music of today? Please post your discussion and two responses by Thursday at 11:59 PM CT.
Discussion 4
Describe the types of “early” American folk music. Feel free to discuss any of the traditions listed in Chapter 2; you only need to discuss two traditions (Spanish, British, Early American, or African). The best way to write this discussion is to listen to and comment on 2 of the listening examples on the CD set that accompanies the textbook. Continue to read what the purple listening chart descriptions in the textbook have to say about the pieces and use it as a guide to write your discussion. Please post your response by Thursday at 11:59 PM CT.
Dropbox Essay Assignment 2
Dropbox Essay 2 asks you to write an in-depth essay on one early American music tradition: either North American Indian chant, or else on any one of the four early American folk song traditions described in Chapter 2. This essay should relate to Discussion 3 and 4 above and mention relevant titles of some music examples from the CD set. The purple listening charts in the textbook can be used as an excellent guide to show you how to write about the music listening examples, even when you have no background in music. This essay is due by Saturday at 11:59 PM Central Time. Assignment information, requirements, guidance, and rubric are available in the Content area of the course.
Proctor Information
Submit your proctor form to the appropriate Dropbox folder by the end of the week. Remember to “Save” the form before placing it in Dropbox. See the Content area for more information.
Readings and Listening
Read Chapters 3, 4 and 5, pp. 44-86. CD Listening Examples 11 through 20.
Discussion 5
The singing school masters were America's first true composers. Who were these early American composers and what are the titles of some of their compositions? Discuss musical and social functions of the Singing Schools. Use the CD listening examples, which are also explained in the purple charts, to describe the form and texture of fuging tunes. Describe how fuging tunes differ from canons in form and texture? Use the purple listening charts to write your discussion. Always include composers’ names and the titles of the compositions in your discussions. Please post your discussion and two responses by Thursday at 11:59 PM Central Time.
Discussion 6
Who were some of America’s first prestigious musical amateurs? What did they do and what are the musical accomplishments they are remembered for? The music of the Moravians should be part of this discussion. There are no CD listening examples for this discussion, but can you find any listening examples online? Try searching YouTube. Please post your response by Thursday at 11:59 PM Central Time.
Quiz 1
This quiz, found in Online Course Access, will ask questions about the composers and listening examples found in Chapters 1 through 5. Please have the quiz completed Saturday by 11:59 PM CT.
Readings and Listening
Read Chapters 6, and 7, pp. 87-123. CD Listening Examples 21 through 28.
Discussion 7
Romanticism replaced Classicism as the preferred style of the nineteenth century. Typical Romantic traits, such as exalting the individual and denying boundaries and restraints, particularly suited the American personality. There are numerous topics discussed in chapters six, seven, and eight. Choose the composer, musical style, performer, or music tradition that you find the most interesting and discuss your choice in detail. You can find your choices in “Religious Music of the Early Nineteenth Century,” “Popular Music of the Civil War Era,” or else “Concert Music.” Limit yourself to discussing one composer, performer, or tradition; but, do write about your choice in as much detail as possible. Include at least one or two listening example in the body of your discussion. We can teach each other about American nineteenth-century music in this discussion. Now, you lead the class. Please post your discussion and two responses by Thursday at 11:59 PM CT.
Midterm Exam (proctored)
Complete your proctored Midterm Exam between Tuesday and Sunday of this week. The Midterm Exam consists of a sixty question quiz and two essays of 3 to 4 paragraphs in length. Detailed information about the essay portion of the exam is available in the Content area of the course under Week 4. You should review this information before arriving to complete your proctored exam.
Readings and Listening
Read Part 3, Chapters 8, 9, 10, 11, and 12, pp. 124-225. CD Listening Examples 29 through 52.
Discussion 8
While composers of art music continued to emulate European traditions, vernacular music developed characteristic American traits. Sousa's marches and Joplin's rags aroused enthusiasm abroad as well as at home. Tin Pan Alley produced songs to order, many of outstanding quality and seemingly endless appeal. Jazz, country music, and Latin popular music all influenced the American vernacular tradition. What type of vernacular music did you find the most interesting after reading the textbook and listening to the CD music examples? Describe your choice in as much detail as possible? Please post your discussion and two responses by Thursday at 11:59 PM Central Time.
Discussion 9
Now that we have considered so many different types of American vernacular music, what is it about them that makes them so popular? This discussion is a challenge and will require you to do some of your own critical thinking and analysis. Be creative and be ambitious when you write this discussion. Come up with at least a couple of paragraphs that support your point of view. Mention the listening examples by title and performer(s). Please post your discussion and two responses by Thursday at 11:59 PM Central Time.
Quiz 2
Due by Saturday at 11:59 PM Central Time.
Readings and Listening
Read Part 4, Chapters 13, 14, 15 and 16, pp. 228-293. CD Listening Examples 53 through 59.
Discussion 10
Various social and economic conditions fostered a sense of independence and rebellion among the youth of the 1950s. Rock and roll developed from a combination of rhythm and blues and country-western styles and appealed both to young black and white listeners. After reading the chapters on rock and roll, what type of music tradition did you find the most intriguing? Feel free to discuss early rock and roll, or if you prefer you can chose a topic from chapter sixteen, “Popular Music Since 1970.” Discuss an artist, artists, or rock style in as much detail as you can. Include the titles of rock compositions in your discussion. Please post your discussion and two responses by Thursday at 11:59 PM Central Time.
Discussion 11
Discuss the seeming oxymoron “jazz composition.” How do jazz composers meld composition and improvisation? Please post your discussion and two responses by Thursday at 11:59 PM Central Time.
Dropbox Essay Assignment
Dropbox Essay 3 deals with the recent advances in digital technology and how they affect the music business today. Review the section on Music Business, Sharing Music, and Marketing Music, found on pp. 289-291, before you start writing this essay. If you have ever downloaded music online, this exercise should help you more fully realize the economic and artistic consequences involved in that transaction. Essay 3 is due by Saturday at 11:59 PM Central Time. Assignment information, requirements, guidance, and rubric are available in the Content area of the course.
Course Evaluation
Please evaluate the course. You will have an opportunity to evaluate the course near the end of the session. A link sent to your CougarMail will allow you to access the evaluation. Please note that these evaluations are provided so that I can improve the course, find out what students perceive to be its strengths and weaknesses, and in general assess the success of the course. Please do take the time to fill this out.
Readings and Listening
Part 5, Chapters 17, 18, and 19, pp. 294-355. CD Listening Examples 60 through 67.
Discussion 12
Musical theater became increasingly popular in America shortly before and after the turn of the twentieth century. Most American musical shows between the Civil War and World War I had a variety format with little if any plot, but imported European operettas paved the way for the first American operettas written by sophisticated European composers. Choose on genre of musical theater discussed in the textbook in detail: variety shows, operetta, musical comedies, Black musical theater, or the golden age of Broadway musicals. Please post your discussion and two responses by Thursday at 11:59 PM Central Time.
Discussion 13
From the earliest days of commercial films, live music has introduced and accompanied a movie. With the advent of sound films, the film score emerged as a new form of dramatic music, underpinning the movie's emotional effects while serving innumerable practical functions as well. Carefully read the information on pages 324 and 325 about the functions of music in film (e.g., as Mickey Mousing) and source versus functional music. Next, pay close attention to the score of a film you view on video. Mute the sound to re-view scenes in which music had significant impact and consider the difference in effect. Try playing different, unrelated music, while viewing the same scene. Describe your impressions. Please post your response by Thursday at 11:59 PM Central Time.
Quiz 3
Due by Saturday at 11:59 PM Central Time.
Readings and Listening
Read Part 6, Chapters 20, 21, 22, and 23, pp. 356-416. CD Listening Examples 68 through 80.
Discussion 14
In the 1920s, Aaron Copland led the way to France to study composition with Nadia Boulanger. He and other important music composers adapted traditional music forms and techniques to create new American compositions. Listen again to music examples 68 through 80. What is "American" about these compositions? You can choose 3 or 4 contrasting music examples from the CD to discuss. Please post your discussion and two responses by Thursday at 11:59 PM Central Time.
Final Exam: Part 1

The Final exam consists of two (2) expanded, in-depth essays and a sixty question quiz. The exam will only cover material from the Midterm exam on.

The sixty question quiz should be completed in the Quizzes area of the course.

Final Exam: Part 2

The Final exam consists of two (2) expanded, in-depth essays and a sixty question quiz. The exam will only cover material from the Midterm exam on.

Detailed information about the essay portion of the exam is available in the Content area of the course under Week 8. You should review this information before completing the essays. Completed essays should be uploaded to the Dropbox area of the course by Saturday at 11:59 PM Central Time.

  Course Policies

Student Conduct

All Columbia College students, whether enrolled in a land-based or online course, are responsible for behaving in a manner consistent with Columbia College's Student Conduct Code and Acceptable Use Policy. Students violating these policies will be referred to the office of Student Affairs and/or the office of Academic Affairs for possible disciplinary action. The Student Code of Conduct and the Computer Use Policy for students can be found in the Columbia College Student Handbook. The Handbook is available online; you can also obtain a copy by calling the Student Affairs office (Campus Life) at 573-875-7400. The teacher maintains the right to manage a positive learning environment, and all students must adhere to the conventions of online etiquette.


Your grade will be based in large part on the originality of your ideas and your written presentation of these ideas. Presenting the words, ideas, or expression of another in any form as your own is plagiarism. Students who fail to properly give credit for information contained in their written work (papers, journals, exams, etc.) are violating the intellectual property rights of the original author. For proper citation of the original authors, you should reference the appropriate publication manual for your degree program or course (APA, MLA, etc.). Violations are taken seriously in higher education and may result in a failing grade on the assignment, a grade of "F" for the course, or dismissal from the College.

Collaboration conducted between students without prior permission from the instructor is considered plagiarism and will be treated as such. Spouses and roommates taking the same course should be particularly careful.

All required papers may be submitted for textual similarity review to Turnitin.com for the detection of plagiarism. All submitted papers may be included in the Turnitin.com reference database for the purpose of detecting plagiarism. This service is subject to the Terms and Conditions of Use posted on the Turnitin.com site.


There will be no discrimination on the basis of sex, race, color, national origin, sexual orientation, religion, ideology, political affiliation, veteran status, age, physical handicap, or marital status.

Student Accessibility Resources

Students with documented disabilities who may need academic services for this course are required to register with the office of Student Accessibility Resources. Until the student has been cleared through this office, accommodations do not have to be granted. If you are a student who has a documented disability, it is important for you to read the entire syllabus as soon as possible. The structure or the content of the course may make an accommodation not feasible. Student Accessibility Resources is located in Student Affairs in AHSC 215 and can be reached by phone at (573) 875-7626 or email at sar@ccis.edu.

Online Participation

You are expected to read the assigned texts and participate in the discussions and other course activities each week. Assignments should be posted by the due dates stated on the grading schedule in your syllabus. If an emergency arises that prevents you from participating in class, please let your instructor know as soon as possible.

Attendance Policy

Attendance for a week will be counted as having submitted any assigned activity for which points are earned. Attendance for the week is based upon the date work is submitted. A class week is defined as the period of time between Monday and Sunday (except for week 8, when the work and the course will end on Saturday at midnight.) The course and system deadlines are based on the Central Time Zone.

Cougar Email

All students are provided a CougarMail account when they enroll in classes at Columbia College. You are responsible for monitoring email from that account for important messages from the College and from your instructor. You may forward your Cougar email account to another account; however, the College cannot be held responsible for breaches in security or service interruptions with other email providers.

Students should use email for private messages to the instructor and other students. The class discussions are for public messages so the class members can each see what others have to say about any given topic and respond.

Late Assignment Policy

An online class requires regular participation and a commitment to your instructor and your classmates to regularly engage in the reading, discussion and writing assignments. Although most of the online communication for this course is asynchronous, you must be able to commit to the schedule of work for the class for the next eight weeks. You must keep up with the schedule of reading and writing to successfully complete the class.

No late discussion posts will be accepted.

Late assignments will be penalized 25% unless the student can document the cause was due to "extra ordinary circumstances beyond the control of the student." It is requested that when possible the instructor be notified by email of an assignment that will be late, prior to the due date of the assignment.

Course Evaluation

You will have an opportunity to evaluate the course near the end of the session. A link will be sent to your CougarMail that will allow you to access the evaluation. Be assured that the evaluations are anonymous and that your instructor will not be able to see them until after final grades are submitted.

Proctor Policy

Students taking courses that require proctored exams must submit their completed proctor request forms to their instructors by the end of the second week of the session. Proctors located at Columbia College campuses are automatically approved. The use of ProctorU services is also automatically approved. The instructor of each course will consider any other choice of proctor for approval or denial. Additional proctor choices the instructor will consider include: public librarians, high school or college instructors, high school or college counseling services, commanding officers, education service officers, and other proctoring services. Personal friends, family members, athletic coaches and direct supervisors are not acceptable.

  Additional Resources

Orientation for New Students

This course is offered online, using course management software provided by Desire2Learn and Columbia College. The course user guide provides details about taking an online course at Columbia College. You may also want to visit the course demonstration to view a sample course before this one opens.

Technical Support

If you have problems accessing the course or posting your assignments, contact your instructor, the Columbia College Helpdesk, or the D2L Helpdesk for assistance. Contact information is also available within the online course environment.

Online Tutoring

Smarthinking is a free online tutoring service available to all Columbia College students. Smarthinking provides real-time online tutoring and homework help for Math, English, and Writing. Smarthinking also provides access to live tutorials in writing and math, as well as a full range of study resources, including writing manuals, sample problems, and study skills manuals. You can access the service from wherever you have a connection to the Internet. I encourage you to take advantage of this free service provided by the college.

Access Smarthinking through CougarTrack under Students -> Academics -> Academic Resources.