Rock On

February 13, 2015
By Lauren Kempton ’18

American MusicA trip to the Twin Cities to see a rock concert now counts for course credit—at least for students concentrating in the new American music program.

 Carleton has a strong tradition in teaching American music, says music professor Melinda Russell. She cites classes in jazz, Appalachian music, country western music, film and new media, blues, and folk revival as evidence that even before the creation of the new concentration, “Carleton’s music department was considerably ahead of its time.”

That said, students now can formally earn a concentration for classes that contribute to an understanding of diverse American music and musical cultures. Such a program is “new in the country, not just new at Carleton,” says Russell, who serves as
its director.

Courses that count toward the concentration are not limited to the music department. Students also will study American music in a broader cultural context. For example, a history course on the civil rights movement could provide background for studying the Freedom Singers, and an American studies class on race and beauty could give insight into how critics have responded to Beyoncé. 

The American music concentration will bridge a gap between American studies and music majors, Russell says. A gateway course surveys American musical history and genres, and the concentration culminates in a capstone seminar for independent research.

“Carleton should be proud of its unusually rich offerings in American history, culture, and music,” says Russell. “I’m grateful for the adventurous faculty members and enthusiastic students who helped us design and create this new concentration.”