Overview of all courses

African American Music History

Study Levels: Undergraduate, Postgraduate
Faculty: Damien Sneed
Manhattan School of Music

Damien Sneed introduces African American Music History

African American Music History


Examining a variety of musical genres beginning with the music of West Africa and moving to Plantations songs (spirituals, work songs), Ethiopian Minstrelsy, music of the Mississippi Delta, Blues, Ragtime, Jazz, Rhythm & Blues and Art Music.

Examine influence of the social, economic, religious, political and technological variables (i.e., industrial inventions to Jim Crow laws and the Civil Rights Movement) on the historical direction of African American music In exploring the diversity of African American musical expression, we will question our assumptions about race, about music, and the links between the two.


By the end of this course students will be able to:

  • Know African American musical terms and concepts
  • Understand historical perspectives on African American music cultures


Readings and discussions will encompass African American music from spirituals and work songs to bebop and hip hop, from Duke Ellington to N.W.A., from Bessie Smith to Stevie Wonder, from James Reese Europe to Bob Marley, all of which will help us explore the rich set of meanings black music has held in the Americas for over four hundred years.