MUS 461: The History & Literature of Jazz

Instructor: Mark Lanter
3 credit hours

Course Description

The purpose of this course is to examine the logical musical development of jazz as well as the important elements which comprise the individual styles of Jazz. The class will focus on the important musicians and literature of each era. Attention will also be brought to social aspects of the times as it directly relates to the development of jazz history.

Course Goals & Objectives

The primary objective of this course is to instill in the student a clear understanding of the development of jazz. The student will be expected to know the important figures of Jazz and why they are important to the music. Furthermore, the student will also learn to recognize styles, musicians, and pieces aurally. The ultimate goal of the course is to familiarize the student with the aspects of the music, thus enabling the student to appreciate the truly personal experience of the music known as “Jazz.”

Required Materials

  • Jazz Styles: History and Analysis, 7th Edition, Mark Gridley. Prentice Hall, Englewood Cliffs, NJ: 1998.
  • Musical examples will be derived from the Smithsonian Collection of Classic Jazz and other landmark recordings


Weekly reading assignments will be given. The student is also responsible for a term paper (7-10 pages in length, footnoted, with bibliography) about a jazz artist of his/her choice. The paper is due on the last day of class.


There will be a mid-term and final examination in this course. The final will be comprehensive. There will also be 3 quizzes during the course of the semester. Each quiz and examination will contain a listening component. There will be no make-up quizzes or examinations.

Policies & Procedures

Grading System

Assessment of the student’s work is based on the following criteria:

  • Comprehension and command of material covered in the course.
  • Class participation is expected and welcome.
  • Command of terminology, stylistic and musician recognition.
  • Examinations, quizzes, research paper.

The student’s final grade will be drawn from grades received for each component of the course:

Quiz #1: 10%
Quiz #2: 10%
Quiz #3: 10%
Midterm: 25%
Final Exam: 30%
Term paper: 15%

95%-100% = A
90%-94% = A-
86%-89% = B+
82%-85% = B
79%-81% = B-
75%-78% = C+
71%-74% = C
68%-70% = C-
64%-67% = D+
60%-63% = D
57%-59% = D-
0%-56% = F

Attendance Policy

Attendance of all classes is expected. Three absences from class will result in lowering the final grade by one letter. Any extenuating curcumstances must be immediately discussed with Mark Lanter.

Course Outline

Week 1: Chapters 1 & 2 What is Jazz?
Week 2: Chapter 4 Origins of Jazz
Week 3 & 4: Chapter 5 Early Jazz, Quiz #1
Week 5: Chapter 7 Duke Ellington
Week 6: Chapter 6 & 8 Swing & Count Basie, Quiz #2
Week 7 & 8: Chapter 9 Bop, Mid-Term Examination
Week 9: Chapter 10 Cool Jazz
Week 10: Chapter 11 & 12 Hard Bop & Miles Davis
Week 11: Chapter 12, 14, & 15 Miles Davis Continued. Free Jazz. Evans, Hancock, Corea, and Jarr. Quiz #3
Week 12: Chapters 11, 12, 13, & 15 Hard Bop, Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Evans, Hancock, Corea, and Jarrett
Week 13: Chapters 14 & 15 Avant-Garde, Evans, Hancock, Corea, and Jarrett
Week 14: Chapter 16 Jazz Rock Fusion
Week 15: Jazz Artists not covered in text. Term Paper Due.