Program Director: Andy Flory, Associate Professor of Music

The American Music minor brings together the most prominent strands of American music scholarship on campus and provides students with a framework for understanding the diverse musics and musical cultures of America.

Can I Major in it?

No. A minor in American Music is offered.

What do you mean by “American Music”?

Our minor considers a broad range of music created in the Americas during the past several centuries. We view music from varied traditions and class formations as equally valuable and worthy of study. We are interested in art (classical) music, vernacular (folk) music, and music associated with popular styles.

We also view our focus as “the Americas,” rather than simply the United States. What binds all of this music together? What gives it an “American” character? These questions are at the foundation of our study!

How is the American Music Minor different from the Music Major?

The Carleton music major requires significant study in the history and theory of European art music. The American Music minor does not require either of these. And though they are useful skills, reading music and musical performance are not required for our students.

The American Music Minor also requires a much smaller commitment; the current music major requires 64 credits and our minor requires 36 credits.

How is the American Music Minor different from American Studies?

There is a strong connection between the American Music Minor and American Studies. There is no minor in American Studies, so the American Music Minor offers students the opportunity to concentrate on an “American” topic in addition to their major(s).

American Studies is a broader field that considers American culture and history. The American Music Minor uses music as a specific lens to view these topics.

There are scholarly societies for both American Studies and American Music. These may give you a better sense of the relationship between the two. At Carleton, the American Music Minor is not housed directly within American Studies. It is run by the Music Department.

How do I get started?

Contact the director to let us know that you are interested!

Or attend one of our events, if you can, and let yourself be known. We’ve held interest parties, brought speakers to campus, and taken students to musical events in the Cities.

What’s the deal with the capstone seminar?

The capstone research seminars are fun and challenging. They require students to marshal their previous minor studies within a single course, combining knowledge of American Music with methodological frameworks and related historical and culture study.

We choose narrow topics and dig deep by reviewing primary and secondary sources. With the help of the instructor and the peer group, every student creates a paper with original research. It is a lot of work, but worth every minute of effort!

In the past, we have offered seminars on the music of Motown, the Beatles, and jazz criticism in the first half of the twentieth century. Other cool topics will follow!

Can I incorporate performance?

No. We value performance as a meaningful way to better understand American Music, but these credits will not count toward the minor requirements.