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Course Overview

Welcome to Music 204, your introductory course on jazz. In this course we will survey the history of one of the most popular and influential genres of music in the 20th century. Although born in the United States shortly after the turn of the century, jazz quickly gained devoted followers in Europe, Asia, Africa, and elsewhere. Even in Nazi Germany and Communist Russia diehard fans collected American jazz records in defiance of national ideology and edict. Now at the turn of a new century, jazz is, more than ever, a music belonging to the whole world. I hope you enjoy becoming more familiar with this rich musical heritage, which the United States Congress recently pronounced “a national treasure.”


There are no prerequisites for Music 204. This is a General Education course and assumes only that you have had a fairly broad exposure to American history and popular culture, most of which you will have gained as a natural result of growing up in this country. International students may need to brush up on their United States history in the 20th century, but if they have had access to American radio and television they should be well prepared otherwise. No musical training is assumed for this course.

Course Learning Outcomes

By the end of this course you should be able to do the following:

  1. Master a basic vocabulary for describing musical events.
  2. Be able to reproduce a chronology of the most important events (including recordings) in the history of jazz.
  3. Be able to recognize important styles, pieces, and soloists, by ear.

Course Structure

There are six lessons in this course. Be sure to coordinate your study of the lessons with the textbook readings and the listening assignments. Do the Self Check questions as you go to assess your comprehension of key points. Here’s an outline of the course and the objectives for each lesson:

Lesson 1: Fundamentals of Music / Origins of Jazz (ca. 1900-1914)

Lesson 2: Early Jazz (ca. 1914-1929)

Lesson 3: Swing (ca. 1929-1945)

Preparing for Midcourse Exam

Lesson 4: Bop (ca. 1945-1960)

Lesson 5: Free Jazz to Fusion (ca. 1960-1975)

Lesson 6: Postmodern Jazz (ca. 1975-Present)

Preparing for Final Exam

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Course Materials

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As you prepare for the Speedback Assignments, focus particularly on musical style and form, historical context, and important musicians’ lives and careers. Memorize the meanings of all names and terms highlighted in bold in your textbook. In addition, pay close attention to all information in sidebars, boxes, and so forth. Study and learn the information in the Listening Charts—as well as the boxed, shaded commentary—for each assigned recording.

Note: The schedule for turning in your written assignments is more flexible. Just keep in mind that you need to complete the assignment before you take the corresponding Speedback assignment. Assignments are to be submitted electronically.

Lesson Speedback Assignment Written Assignment Deadline
Lesson 1: Fundamentals of Music/Origins of Jazz
(ca. 1900-1914)
Lesson 2: Early Jazz
(ca. 1914-1929)
Speedback Assignment 1 Written Assignment 1: Early Jazz
Lesson 3: Swing
(ca. 1929-1945)
Speedback Assignment 2 Written Assignment 2: Swing
Midcourse Exam
Lesson 4: Bop
(ca. 1945-1960)
Speedback Assignment 3 Written Assignment 3: Bop
Lesson 5: Free Jazz to Fusion
(ca. 1960-1975)
Speedback Assignment 4 Written Assignment 4: Free Jazz to Fusion
Lesson 6: Postmodern Jazz
(ca. 1975-Present)
Speedback Assignment 5
Final Exam

How to Submit Electronically

You will submit your completed paper electronically through your course. To make sure that I can open and read your paper, please save it as an .RTF (rich text format) file. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Type your paper in a word-processing program (such as Microsoft Word).
  2. When you save the file, click the Save as type: drop-down list.
  3. Select Rich Text Format (*.rtf).
  4. Use the course number, your first and last name, and the assignment name for the filename. For example, “[CourseNameNumber]_[YourName]_[BriefTitle].rtf.” [You can use the instructor’s name and course as an example, such as: ELANG325_DonChapman_GrammarPaper.rtf.]
  5. Click Save.
  6. Submit the lesson’s .RTF file through the [Lesson/Assignment Title] assignment for grading (multiple document uploading is availiable).

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There are two exams in this course—a midcourse and a final. They are each made up of a “listening” and a “written” component. For the listening section, you will be held responsible only for recordings assigned in the lessons. Be prepared to identify, by ear, recordings by title and bandleader (or band), to recognize important soloists and styles, and to distinguish among various elements of style and structure. For the written section you will be tested on factual and interpretive material in the lessons and textbook readings. The midcourse exam covers the first three lessons, and the final covers the last three lessons.

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As the following table indicates, there are five computer-graded Speedback Assignments—one for each lesson 2 through 6—plus a midcourse exam and a cumulative final exam. In addition, you will complete four written assignments, each a 2-3 page long response to a given essay question.

The breakdown of your grade will be as follows:

Assignments Percentage of Final Grade
Lesson 2: Speedback Assignment 1 4%
Lesson 3: Speedback Assignment 2 4%
Lesson 4: Speedback Assignment 3 4%
Lesson 5: Speedback Assignment 4 4%
Lesson 6: Speedback Assignment 5 4%
Written Assignment 1 5%
Written Assignment 2 5%
Written Assignment 3 5%
Written Assignment 4 5%
Midcourse Exam 30%
Final Exam 30%
Grade Scale
A 100%–92% C 77%–72%
A- 91%–90% C- 71%–70%
B+ 89%–88% D+ 69%–68%
B 87%–82% D 67%–62%
B- 81%–80% D- 61%–60%
C+ 79%–78% E (fail) 59%–0%

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Copyright Notice

The materials used in connection with this online course are only for the use of students enrolled in this course for purposes associated with this course and may not be retained or further disseminated. Any copying or further dissemination of these materials may be subject to applicable U.S. Copyright Laws. For questions or more information, please visit the BYU Copyright Licensing Office website.

“Members of the BYU community who willfully disregard this Copyright Policy or the BYU Copyright Guidelines place themselves individually at risk of legal action and may incur personal liability for their conduct. The unauthorized use or distribution of copyrighted material, including unauthorized peer-to-peer file sharing, may subject individuals to civil and criminal liabilities, including actual and statutory damages, costs and fees of litigation, fines, and imprisonment

Violations of the Copyright Policy may result in university disciplinary action including termination of university enrollment or employment.” (Emphasis added. Excerpt taken from the BYU Copyright Policy)

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University Policy - Title IX Statement

Preventing & Responding to Sexual Misconduct

In accordance with Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, Brigham Young University prohibits unlawful sex discrimination against any participant in its education programs or activities. The university also prohibits sexual harassment—including sexual violence—committed by or against students, university employees, and visitors to campus. As outlined in university policy, sexual harassment, dating violence, domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking are considered forms of "Sexual Misconduct" prohibited by the university.

University policy requires all university employees in a teaching, managerial, or supervisory role to report all incidents of Sexual Misconduct that come to their attention in any way, including but not limited to face-to-face conversations, a written class assignment or paper, class discussion, email, text, or social media post. Incidents of Sexual Misconduct should be reported to the Title IX Coordinator at t9coordinator@byu.edu or (801) 422-8692. Reports may also be submitted through EthicsPoint at https://titleix.byu.edu/report or 1-888-238-1062 (24-hours a day).

BYU offers confidential resources for those affected by Sexual Misconduct, including the university’s Victim Advocate, as well as a number of non-confidential resources and services that may be helpful. Additional information about Title IX, the university’s Sexual Misconduct Policy, reporting requirements, and resources can be found at http://titleix.byu.edu or by contacting the university’s Title IX Coordinator.

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Accessibility Notice

BYU is committed to providing a working and learning atmosphere which reasonably accommodates persons with disabilities who are otherwise qualified to participate in BYU's programs and activities. In this spirit, BYU Independent Study aspires to improve web accessibility for users. While not required by law, the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 Levels A and AA provide a wide range of helpful recommendations to make Web content more accessible. BYU Independent Study strives to apply WCAG 2.0 recommendations where feasible, but may deviate from any recommendations that would result in an undue hardship to BYU Independent Study or alterations to program and course content and objectives. If you have questions about accessibility, or if you need to report problems with any accessibility features please see our Accessibilities and Accommodations Web Page.

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Course Policies

These policies are specific to this course. For additional information about general policies, please refer to Independent Study Course Policies page.


5 computer-graded assignments, 4 written assignments, may be resubmitted once for a fee.

Resubmit an assignment for a fee.


1 proctored, multiple-choice, computer-graded midcourse exam, may retake once for a fee.

1 proctored, multiple-choice, computer-graded final exam, may retake once for a fee.

All assignments must be submitted and graded before requesting the final exam; must pass the final exam to pass the course.

Retake an exam for a fee.

Getting Help

Please use the help menu in this course to contact Independent Study or your instructor. You can find a list of free tutors available to BYU Independent Study students on the Free Tutoring Services website.

Note: The Harold B. Lee Library website provides a number of online resources and librarians are available via phone, chat, and email to answer questions about library-related issues.

Inappropriate Use of Course Content

All course materials (e.g., outlines, handouts, syllabi, exams, quizzes, media, lecture content, audio and video recordings, etc.) are proprietary. Students are prohibited from posting or selling any such course materials without the express written permission of BYU Independent Study. To do so is a violation of the Brigham Young University Honor Code.

Copyright © 2016 Brigham Young University. All rights reserved.

Published by the
Department of Independent Study
Division of Continuing Education
Brigham Young University
120 MORC
Provo, Utah 84602-1514