You have elected to formally study music at Berklee College of Music. The College’s mission statement states the following:
“Founded on jazz and popular music rooted in the African cultural diaspora, our comprehensive curriculum is distinctly contemporary in its content and approach, and embraces the principal musical movements of our time. Through a course of scholarly and practical learning experiences integrating performance and writing, our curriculum covers the variety of influential styles, relevant technologies, and career opportunities open to today’s music professional.”
1. Define the term “The African Diaspora.” Specifically concentrate on your instrument and interest in a particular musical style and prepare your individual “musical tree” and illustrate how your study plan embraces several pioneers of African Descent who have shaped your musical interest. Use the Wyatt Tee Walker illustration as the guidepost for development of your individual musical tree. Identify the principal men and women who have influenced your musicality. 2. Choose two of the pioneers who have excelled in Jazz, Blues, Rhythm music, Soul, Contemporary pop, Gospel, Hip Hop and Rock and demonstrate how their musical acumen can be traced back to the innovations in traditional African American musical forms.3. Describe the early life of Dr. John Henrik Clarke and how the “sharecropper system” had such a major impact on the lives of many people of African Descent in America including many of the pioneers you have identified on your musical tree. What was the Sharecropping system and what was its impact on the social, political and economic developments in America for all Americans. How does this history help you to better understand the racial disparities in contemporary America? 4. Define Western institutional religions and African spirituality. Why is it imperative to understand the difference when you study the evolution of people of African descent in the America’s? Why have so many national Black artists felt compelled in their musical compositions to “go back to God?” Using the two artists you have identified speak to whether they have followed this pattern. 5. Describe the stereotypical prototypes Blacks have played on the national stage that have reinforced negative imagery of Black people. Dr. Clarke refers to playing the “fool” to get the attention of the public. Donald Bogle identifies several categories: “Black Mammy”, “Buffoon”, “Coon” “tragic mulatto”, “Uncle Tom”, “Black buck”, ‘Pickinny” to name a few. Why is it significant for you as a musician embarking on a national –international career to understand the damage these images continue to cause in how the public responds to people of color around the world? Please site some examples. 6. Dr. Clarke identifies several men and women that had a profound impact on his life and have shaped Americana. Please describe the importance of these figures to your study of music at Berklee College of Music: Arthur Schaumburg, Kwame Nkrumah, Paul Robeson, WEB Dubois, Marcus Garvey, Booker T Washington, Ida B. Wells, Cheikh Diop, Malcolm X. 7. There are a number of musical artists we have discussed that reflect the writings of these men and women. Describe what Dorothy Donegan, Blind Tom, La Shun Pace Rhodes, Little Richard, Big Momma Thornton, Linda Hopkins, Nina Simone, Curtis Mayfield, Sweet Honey in the Rock, Otis Blackwell, James Cleveland, Billie Holiday, Chuck Berry and Berry Gordy represent in the study of the development of popular musical forms in America? 8. Revisit the video “Cookin with Aunt Ethel” and consider her definitions of Jazz and the Blues. How does her definition challenge our traditional study of these musical forms? Use the two artists you have cited in your paper and their lives as examples to refute or support her expanded definition. 9. Describe the most compelling discussion we have had in class and how you were challenged to reconsider or expand your perspective.
10. Identify two young artists under 25 that represent the writings or musical accomplishments of some of the people mentioned above. Justify your choices with specific examples from their musical writings and compositions.