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Steven Hoelscher, Chair Burdine 437, Mailcode B7100, Austin, TX 78712 • 512-471-7277

Fall 2007

AMS 325 • Music of Indigenous Peoples of the Americas-W

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
30430 TTh
3:30 PM-5:00 PM
MRH 2.604

Course Description

This course introduces students to the music and dance of indigenous communities in North, South, and Central America, with particular attention to the relation between performance, cultural identity, and social change. Focusing especially on case studies from the Andes, the Amazon, and the United States, we will compare the musical practices of several different peoples. The course is designed to illuminate commonalities in indigenous history, performance, and worldview, while simultaneously exploring how the experiences of distinct nations have fostered unique musical practices. Considering how performers have responded to changing circumstances, responding to and reshaping the self-perception of social groups, we will investigate the way that traditional and non-traditional elements are adapted to fit the emerging realities of indigenous lives.

Issues to be considered will include what can be known about indigenous practices before the European invasions; musical change and adaptation in response to the arrival and/or imposition of European music; the persistence and adaptation of traditional music and dance forms; shifting notions of indigenous identity and their representation via musical practice; "outsider" musical representations of indigenous people, in forms such as American westerns or indigenista literatures, and their consequences for indigenous peoples themselves; the relations between music and indigenous politics; musical expression as a component of religious practice; and the expression of indigenous identities via popular musical styles.

Grading Policy

The course will be largely based on in-class discussion of assigned readings, and it will have a substantial writing component. Throughout the term, students will complete short reaction papers, in response to texts and films. They will also be required to write a major paper on a topic of their choosing, which will draw upon the theories and ideas introduced throughout the term.


Primary texts will include Moving Away From Silence: Music of the Peruvian Altiplano and the Experience of Urban Migration, by Thomas Turino, and Heartbeat of the People: Music and Dance of the Northern Pow-wow, by Tara Browner. Excerpts are also likely to be selected from among the following sources: Diamond, Beverley Visions of Sound: Musical Instruments of First Nations Communities in Northeastern America. Lassiter, Luke The Power of Kiowa Song: a Collaborative Ethnography. Lornell, Kip & Anne K. Rasmussen eds. Musics of Multicultural America: a Study of Twelve Musical Communities McAllester, David Park. Enemy Way Music: a Study of Social and Esthetic Values as Seen in Navaho Music. Navarrete Pellicer, Sergio. Maya Achi Marimba Music in Guatemala. Olsen, Dale. Music of the Warao of Venezuela: Song People of the Rain Forest. Pisani, Michael. Imagining Native America in Music. Seeger, Anthony. Why Suya Sing: a Musical Anthropology of an Amazonian People. Stobart, Henry. Music and the Poetics of Production in the Bolivian Andes. Vander, Judith. Shoshone Ghost Dance Religion: Poetry Songs and Great Basin Context


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