In his 1998 book, Musicking, Christopher Small asserts that music is not a thing but an activity-something that people do. Starting from this premise, this course explores musical performance as a live event, one in which additional aspects of performance-dramatic enactments, costume, choreography, and stage design-also come into play. While recorded music plays an important role in our investigations, we focus on musical events that take place before and with live audiences. Exploring the choices of performers and the expectations of audience members in settings from gospel churches to Radio City Music Hall, this course moves through a wide variety of musical genres, including cabaret, blues, opera, protest song, musical theater, and rock. We examine artists whose work blurs the line between "music" and "theater," including George Clinton, Taylor Mac, and Gertrude Stein, as well as everyday people, such as the singers of the Civil Rights Movement, who used the power of live musical performance to change the course of human history. We also attend performances around St. Louis, guided by the interests of the class. Students with an interest in music, theater, dance, cultural history, American studies, and African American studies are especially welcome.
Course Attributes: EN H; BU Hum; AS HUM