Syllabus for Music 63 - Music of the Peoples of the World

Harvey Mudd College, Spring 2013

Instructor: Bill Alves

Mondays/Wednesdays 1:15-2:30
Jacobs B132

This course will cover the fundamentals of music and listening through a survey of traditional, classical, popular, and intercultural music around the world. Among those cultures covered will be those of Africa, the Middle East, Central Asia, India, Indonesia, Japan, China, Eastern Europe, and Latin America.

Neither an ability to read music nor any other background in music is required. The first part of this class will be devoted to learning the fundamentals of music. While I understand that students will come from very disparate musical backgrounds, I think that all will benefit from this very generalized perspective of the basic concepts of music. It will give us a foundation of vocabulary and ways of listening to music that will be used for the remainder of the course.

The materials for this course will include the following:

Office hours

I encourage you to come by my office with any questions you have. I have office hours in the morning Monday through Thursday. Please check the schedule posted on my office door or email me for an appointment (alves @

Course Assignments


Music Fundamentals in-class quiz8%
Online quizzes44%
Video searches16%
Concert reports8%
Listening quizzes24%

Listening quizzes: There will be three short quizzes on the required listening lists. For each listening excerpt you will be asked to identify the country of origin and the title, but, more importantly, discuss the important stylistic characteristics that you hear and apply the principles you have learned from the fundamentals section. Listening quizzes can be made up only when missed because of an excused absence. Examples of reasons for excused absences include illness (with note from student health), family death, and religious holidays. Examples of unexcused absences include clinic trips, travel for sports, visits to grad schools, and airline travel for spring break.

Online quizzes Each section will include some short online quizzes that you will take outside of class time, after having read the corresponding section of the textbook. Quizzes will cover terms, concepts, and listening, in the form of multiple choice questions. Each student will be given a URL, user name, and password in the first week of classes.

Video searches For each region, you will submit by email the URLs of videos from YouTube or similar sites that are examples of types of music discussed in the chapter you have read. You will include the reference to the text as well as a brief description and response.

Concert Attendance In order to give you the opportunity to apply your knowledge to live listening, you will attend at least two concerts of traditional non-Western music during the semester and write short reviews for each. While I encourage you to seek out concerts at all times, fortunately for people without transportation options, there are at least two concerts of non-Western music at Pomona College towards the end of the semester. The review should be one to two pages, stapled to the concert program, and should apply concepts discussed in class to each of the pieces on the concert. It may also include your personal reaction to the pieces. Normally, concerts of popular music, dance with recorded music, or informal concerts without programs are not appropriate for this assignment. If you are in doubt about the appropriateness of a particular concert, please come see me BEFORE you attend the concert.

Hands-on Workshops and Guest Lecturers In order to give you a clearer understanding of some of the music of some of these cultures, I will arrange, when possible, some hands-on workshops to learn the basics of performance in a certain style and culture. I will also try to bring in guest performers to demonstrate and perform on their instruments.

Class Participation Because this class depends on listening, discussion, and participation in hands-on workshops, your attendance is crucial not just for your own experience but also for everyone else's. Therefore each unexcused absence after the first two will result in reduction of the final grade -- A will become A-, A- will become B+ and so on. Examples of excused absences include illness (with a note from student health), family death, and religious holidays. Examples of unexcused absences include travel for spring break, clinic trips, athletic trips, and trips to graduate schools. It is imperative that you listen to the listening lists very carefully and several times in advance of the classes in which we discuss the music. Concentrate while listening and take notes.

Late Assignments are normally penalized one letter grade per class meeting late, but assignments will always receive some credit, no matter how late.

Course outline

These dates may be revised depending on class progress.

DateTopicReading dueAssignment due
Jan. 23Introduction to the Class
Jan. 28Music FundamentalsChapters 1, 2
Jan. 30Music FundamentalsChapter 3
Feb. 4Music FundamentalsChapters 4, 5
Feb. 6Music Fundamentals quizQuizzes 1 through 6
Feb. 11The Music of Sub-Saharan AfricaChapter 6
Feb. 13The Music of Sub-Saharan AfricaQuizzes 7, 8 (Africa)
Feb. 18The Music of Sub-Saharan AfricaAfrica video search
Feb. 20The Music of the Middle EastChapter 7
Feb. 25The Music of the Middle EastQuizzes 9, 10 (Mideast)
Mideast video search
Feb. 27The Music of Eastern EuropeChapter 8
Mar. 4The Music of Eastern EuropeQuizzes 11, 12 (Eastern Europe)
Eastern Europe video search
Mar. 6Listening quiz 1
The Music of Latin America
Chapter 10
Mar. 11The Music of Latin AmericaQuizzes 13, 14 (Latin America)
Mar. 13The Music of Latin AmericaLatin America video search
Mar. 18Spring break
Mar. 20Spring break
Mar. 25The Music of IndiaChapter 13
Mar. 27The Music of IndiaQuizzes 15, 16 (India)
Apr. 1The Music of IndiaIndia video search
Apr. 3Listening quiz 2
The Music of China
Chapter 14
Apr. 8The Music of ChinaQuizzes 17, 18 (China)
Apr. 10The Music of ChinaChina video search
Apr. 15The Music of JapanChapter 15
Apr. 17The Music of JapanQuizzes 19, 20 (Japan)
Japan video search
Apr. 22The Music of IndonesiaChapter 16
Apr. 24The Music of IndonesiaQuizzes 21, 22 (Indonesia)
Apr. 29The Music of IndonesiaIndonesia video search
May 1Listening quiz 3
May 6, 8Presentation Days (no classes)
May 10Senior concert reports due
May 13By 2:00 PM (at the time of the Final)
Concert reports due

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Updated on January 21, 2013 by Bill Alves