American Music Research Project

American Music

In order to become familiar with music in the American tradition, you are going to do a research project over the next several days. Your research will be presented to the class via online presentation software called Prezi. Once you have assembled your presentation, you will simply post a link to it in the \”Research Presentation\” discussion. You will then be asked to comment on the work of other students.

Choose ONE of the twelve research topics below. Use online and physical sources in order to collect the information you need. Your presentation will include visual, textual and audio material. The whole presentation should include around 15-20 \”slides\” (including the audio/visual examples). Contact me if you need help.

Research Topics

1. How was the Dockery Plantation significant to American music?

2. What was the Little Red Songbook and how did the Industrial Workers of the World Union (IWW) use it?

3. Compare and contrast Anglo-American hymns and African-American spirituals.

4. What is the hambone? How is it related to clave, Shave and a haircut, and the Bo Diddley beat?

5. What makes Urban Blues different from Rural Blues? How did the Great Migration contribute to their contrasting sounds?

6. Discuss the social and economic factors during World War II that lead to the decline of the Swing era. Please include the topics of rationing, cabaret tax, draft, and the Musicians Union ban from 1942-1944.

7. Compare and contrast bebop contrafacts and hip hop sampling.

8. How did Brill Building publishing houses (like Aldon music) compare to Tin Pan Alley? Why is this significant?

9. Trace the development of audio recording technology and distribution. Please discuss important inventions and format changes and consider their impact on society, musicians and the recording industry.

10. Trace the development of the electric guitar.

11. In an interview with Richard Buskin, late record producer, Sam Phillips declared that early rock and roll records, changed the worldwhat we did managed to cut through the segregation to such an extent that it was way beyond what I had even hoped we could do. That not only affected this nation, it affected people around the world, and it absolutely had a lot to do with encouraging communication between people of different races.\” What did Alan Freed, American teenagers (baby-boomers), the transistor radio, Elvis Presley, independent record labels, and Chuck Berry contribute to the integration process?

12. What was The Day the Music Died and why was it significant? (What happened to Elvis, Jerry Lewis, Chuck Berry, and Little Richard around the same time?)


You can do all of the research online. Here is a link to the LASC Library Electronic Resources:

In addition, you are welcomed to do some research on campus or in the local library. The library staff and I will be available to help you. If you need additional help or tips, I recommend viewing the link below from the Indiana University Music Library.

Works Cited

Provide a works cited page on the last slide of your Prezi. Use at least six (6) different sources. At least three (3) need to be academic sources and no more than three (3) should be from the Internet.


Each student will create an electronic presentation using the following website:

If you click the link and go to the bottom of the page, you will see example presentations that can give you an idea of how your end product will look. If you click on the \”Learn\” tab at the top of the page, you can view several tutorial videos to help you get started with your \”Prezi.\”

Your presentation should include the following elements:

A. Restatement of the prompt
B. Introduction (to provide context for the prompt)
C. Key Points
D. Examples to support key points (including musical examples)
E. Pictures and/or video
F. Conclusion

The total presentation should include 15-20 \”slides.\” Embed YouTube videos for audio examples. Also, make your presentation entertaining! This doesnt mean that it should be flashy. Each of the prompts will lead you to some interesting material that should be engaging to the rest of the class. Make sure you highlight this material.