Jazz Historiography Course Update

Hello–the “sign up” link I posted before was wrong–the correct info is at the bottom of this revised email. Also, I got some requests about auditing (taking the course for fun, no homework or grade). I am waiting for answers on this but it does not appear that auditing will be possible.

Finally–and this is IMPORTANT–if enough people sign up for this course, we will put other courses online soon. After four courses you will get a certificate in jazz history, and after 12 you’ll have a Master’s degree! (You may combine online courses with classroom courses, of course, if you live near Newark.)

So if you are interested in signing up for this first course, it will be a good investment towards a certificate or degree!

All the best,

First Online Course of Jazz Historiography now Open for Registration; Starts week of January 22

PLEASE NOTE: The sign-up info on the last announcement was incorrect.
Correct sign-up info is at the bottom of this one. THANKS

With the invaluable help of my former graduate student and protégé Evan Spring, my course Historiography has been prepared to be offered online starting in January, and anyone anywhere can register for the course starting now! Please FORWARD this announcement to any and all who might be interested.

This is the first course from the Jazz History and Research program to be available online. Our own Mike Fitzgerald took an earlier version of this course many years ago – before the MA program, when I taught it at the New Brunswick campus – and he told me it started him on a lifetime of jazz research.

Evan Spring was an editor of the Annual Review of Jazz Studies for seven years, spearheaded the effort to convert it into the “open access” Journal of Jazz Studies, had a WKCR show for 20 years,
and – significantly – already taught the Research Methods portion of Historiography as a full-semester course in my M.A. program for three years.

I have been teaching this course since 1997, and it is a regularly updated distillation of everything I’ve learned about the practice of being a jazz historian. Each class features extensive text, several of my pre-recorded audio lectures, embedded illustrations and music audio, and relevant links. However, it should be clear that Evan will provide the follow-up, interactive teaching role – guiding class discussion, giving and grading assignments, monitoring each student’s research projects, and so on. This is why he is listed as the Instructor, even though I have designed and provided the course content (with Evan’s ample editorial assistance and suggestions). Because Evan has already taught Research Methods very successfully, he clearly has the expertise and dedication necessary to provide individual guidance for each student. Students will also interact extensively in an online class forum.

My blog postings, which can be heard at <https://www.wbgo.org/blog/category/20877>, will give you a rough idea of the look and feel of the course, but please note that the course content will be far more thorough and sophisticated in its presentation, as befits a graduate-level course. And of course if you want academic credits, there is homework to be done–listening, reading, short writing assignments, etc.

The course is an introduction to the critical-thinking approach and multimedia research methods that I have used with graduate students in the Rutgers M.A. program in Jazz History and Research. This course is not a survey of jazz history, and it assumes you already know something about jazz history. It is about the ways jazz history has been written, and how we can “rewrite” jazz history by doing our own research. I like to say, “It’s not about what happened; it’s about what they say happened.”

Students in this class must have basic musical literacy and should know how to notate music (by hand or on the computer). There have been exceptions, however, and if an exception is made for you, please consult your instructor whenever you’re having trouble with musical terms and techniques.

There are three “mini-courses” within this course:

1. Mindset/point of view (classes 1–2). This introduction to the class explores the nature of knowledge, the practice of historiography, and jazz myths that have proliferated over the last century. The first class uses case studies from the Bible and Shakespeare, and the second class explores the evolving practice of writing history, from Herodotus to postmodernism. Both classes delve into “jazz myths” ranging from the origins of jazz to the critical response to John Coltrane.

2. Conducting your own research (classes 3–5). This mini-course provides the practical tools required for jazz historical research, from online research to genealogy to interview technique to music transcription. All of the assignments in this portion of the course will be directed toward research for your final term paper.

3. Intensive listening (classes 6–7). The course concludes with extensive listening to the music of Louis Armstrong, the Original Dixieland Jazz Band, Jelly Roll Morton, and other early jazz artists. Students listen on their own time while keeping a listening journal, and transcribing at least 32 bars of music. Classes provide additional context and introduce related recordings.

Porter’s Jazz: A Century of Change (Schirmer, 1997; the Thomson version, 2004, is an exact reprint of the original, so that’s fine too)

There will also be required articles which will be distributed for free.


Essentially you have to fill out a basic (NOT full) application, so you can get a Rutgers I.D. and be on the list of people who can take graduate courses. The only hassle is that you do need to get your undergrad transcript.

ALSO I should mention that they are considering adding more of my grad courses online, in which case this will count towards a four-course Certificate Program in Jazz History, the only such program anywhere!

PLEASE EMAIL ME (Lrpjazz@gmail.com) AND EVAN (evanspring@gmail.com)
with your questions!

All the best,

Interviews Re: Dameronia

Three interviews with me regarding Dameronia – the Life and Music of Tadd Dameron have been made available so far, and there are more in the works. Tune in to WCPN, Cleveland at 10:00 PM this coming Monday to hear Joe Mosbrook’s interview with me. Another is available as a podcast. Jeffrey Siegel has posted this at his Straight No Chaser Web-site. Please note: for some reason there is a long pause between Jeffrey’s introduction and the interview itself. Then, on Saturday January 19, at 4:00 PM, tune in to WICN, Worcester, MA, When I will be Bonnie Johnson’s guest on Colors of Jazz.

Next week I will be interviewed by NPR’s Tom Vitale, and there are other interviews scheduled. Stay Tuned.