Music and Downtown, New York, 1950-1970
This course will explore the history, interconnections, and simultaneous flourishing of four distinct music communities that inhabited and shaped downtown New York during two particularly rich decades in American culture: Euro-American experimentalists; African American jazz-based avant-garde; blues and folk revivalists; and Lower East Side rock groups. Much of the course will be devoted to understanding their points of convergence and divergence, especially in conversation with broader currents of the time (e.g., the Civil Rights Movement and related notions of freedom, shifting youth subcultures, and avant-garde aesthetics). We will read about and listen to recordings of a wide variety of musicians, identify aesthetic and cultural trends, and study the local industry that supported them. Student research, interpretation, and writing will be stressed throughout the semester.