Giant Steps Homework

Hi folks,

Last time, we puzzled our way through figuring out why I asked you to look at/listen to John Coltrane’s “Giant Steps.”

For one thing, I was trying to model for you the process of constructing a “reading” of a piece of pop culture. But I realized, too late, that it’s very hard for you to do this with a piece of music when you’re not musicians.

Therefore, we talked a lot, but I’m not sure we got anywhere. I did ask you to investigate a little more, however, and to attempt 500 words on the social function of “Giant Steps.” When I say social function, I mean that jazz in, say, the 1930s and 1940s was often “used by society” as a kind of dance music. In the 1950s and 1960s, jazz began to have other “functions” in society. What do you think those functions were, why did jazz begin to be used that way, and did jazz lose its older social function when it gained the newer ones?

Don’t worry if you don’t have all the answers: just try to figure out what you can.

In the meantime, bring a USB drive to class. I will be giving you something (in fact, a few things) to watch and we’ll also have a discussion of something completely different in class on Thursday, 17 March.

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