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Unit of study_

MUSC2666: Global Sound: Drum and Bass, Rhythm and Soul

Semester 1, 2021 [Normal day] - Remote

How did the music of enslaved and marginalised people eventually become a dominant force in contemporary popular culture? This unit will examine the local reinvention of a wide variety of African American music in communities around the world. From soul and funk in West Africa to ska and reggae in the Caribbean, we will examine how music moves around the world and within local communities to make new forms of meaning.

Unit details and rules

Unit code MUSC2666
Academic unit
Credit points 6
Assumed knowledge


Available to study abroad and exchange students


Teaching staff

Coordinator Charles Fairchild,
Type Description Weight Due Length
Assignment hurdle task Final essay
35% Formal exam period
Due date: 14 Jun 2021 at 23:59

Closing date: 28 Jun 2021
3000 words
Outcomes assessed: LO2 LO3
Small test hurdle task Listening tests
Non-written test
10% Multiple weeks 500 words
Outcomes assessed:
Assignment hurdle task Critical interpretation task
Written task
25% Week 03
Due date: 26 Mar 2021 at 23:59

Closing date: 09 Apr 2021
1500 words
Outcomes assessed: LO1
Assignment hurdle task Musical analysis task
Written task
20% Week 10
Due date: 14 May 2021 at 23:59

Closing date: 28 May 2021
1000 words
Outcomes assessed: LO2 LO3
Participation hurdle task Class participation, attendance and contribution
10% Weekly n/a
Outcomes assessed:
hurdle task = hurdle task ?

Assessment summary

  • Critical interpretation task: You are required to produce a critical interpretation of the excerpts from the first episode of the film Jazz provided to you. You will use Arjun Appadurai’s article ‘Disjuncture and Difference in the Global Cultural Economy.’ You will apply the concepts about globalisation and diaspora found in these articles to these film excerpts.
  • Muscial analysis task: You will produce an analysis of one or two of the songs presented in the first nine weeks of class. You will be asked to account for the choices made by the musicians and the sounds they created by finding out as much as you can about the song you have chosen to analyse and interpreting this information within the framework established by the lectures and the course readings discussed in class.
  • Listening tasks: There will be two short listening tests in class. You will be asked two questions about music we have listened to and talked about in class. You will only be asked for very short answers.
  • Final essay: You will be required to write an analytic essay about a specific aspect of the globalisation of African-American and African-derived styles of popular music. You will choose an area of interest and formulate a research topic that your final essay will examine. Then, you will need to support your claim
    or argument or thesis by using a range of evidence, including historical background, social contextualisation and musical analysis.

Detailed information for each assessment can be found on Canvas.

Assessment criteria

The following assessment criteria are used for written work in this unit of study:

Result name

Mark range


High distinction

85 - 100

Demonstrates high level of initiative in research and reading; sophisticated critical analysis of evidence; high level engagement with theoretical issues, innovative use of reading/research material and impressive command of underlying debates and assumptions; properly documented and written with style, originality and precision.


75 - 84

Demonstrates initiative in research and wide, appropriate reading; complex understanding of question and ability to critically review material in relation to underlying assumptions and values; analyses material in relation to empirical and theoretical contexts; properly documented; clear, well-developed structure and argument with some signs of literary style.


65 - 74

Evidence of broader understanding than pass level; offers synthesis with some critical evaluation of material; coherent argument using a range of relevant evidence; some evidence of independent thought, good referencing. A high credit (70-74) shows some evidence of ability to problematise and think conceptually.


50 - 64

Written work meets basic requirements in terms of reading/research; relevant material; tendency to descriptive summary rather than critical argument; makes a reasonable attempt to avoid paraphrasing; reasonably coherent structure; often has weaknesses in particular areas, especially in terms of narrow or underdeveloped treatment of question; acceptable documentation.


0 - 49

Work may fail for any or all of the following reasons: Unacceptable paraphrasing; irrelevance of content; poor spelling; poor presentation; grammar or structure so sloppy it cannot be understood; failure to demonstrate understanding of content; insufficient or overlong word length.

For more information see

For more information see guide to grades.

Late submission

In accordance with University policy, these penalties apply when written work is submitted after 11:59pm on the due date:

  • Deduction of 5% of the maximum mark for each calendar day after the due date.
  • After ten calendar days late, a mark of zero will be awarded.

Academic integrity

The Current Student website  provides information on academic integrity and the resources available to all students. The University expects students and staff to act ethically and honestly and will treat all allegations of academic integrity breaches seriously.  

We use similarity detection software to detect potential instances of plagiarism or other forms of academic integrity breach. If such matches indicate evidence of plagiarism or other forms of academic integrity breaches, your teacher is required to report your work for further investigation.

You may only use artificial intelligence and writing assistance tools in assessment tasks if you are permitted to by your unit coordinator, and if you do use them, you must also acknowledge this in your work, either in a footnote or an acknowledgement section.

Studiosity is permitted for postgraduate units unless otherwise indicated by the unit coordinator. The use of this service must be acknowledged in your submission.

Simple extensions

If you encounter a problem submitting your work on time, you may be able to apply for an extension of five calendar days through a simple extension.  The application process will be different depending on the type of assessment and extensions cannot be granted for some assessment types like exams.

Special consideration

If exceptional circumstances mean you can’t complete an assessment, you need consideration for a longer period of time, or if you have essential commitments which impact your performance in an assessment, you may be eligible for special consideration or special arrangements.

Special consideration applications will not be affected by a simple extension application.

Using AI responsibly

Co-created with students, AI in Education includes lots of helpful examples of how students use generative AI tools to support their learning. It explains how generative AI works, the different tools available and how to use them responsibly and productively.

WK Topic Learning activity Learning outcomes
Week 01 Introduction Lecture and tutorial (2 hr)  
Week 02 The emergence of jazz in the cosmopolitan Caribbean Lecture and tutorial (2 hr) LO1
Week 03 Singing the gospel in South Africa Lecture and tutorial (2 hr) LO1
Week 04 The portside bars of the colonial black Atlantic Lecture and tutorial (2 hr) LO1
Week 05 The popular music of west African independence Lecture and tutorial (2 hr) LO1
Week 06 Fela Kuti and the Pan-Africanist popular aesthetic Lecture and tutorial (2 hr) LO1
Week 07 The maroon and rhythm and blues roots of ska and reggae Lecture and tutorial (2 hr) LO1
Week 08 From ska to rocksteady to rastafari reggae Lecture and tutorial (2 hr) LO1
Week 09 Rastafari reggae and the spread of the dub aesthetic Lecture and tutorial (2 hr) LO1
Week 11 Jamaican dancehall and the spread of hip hop Lecture and tutorial (2 hr) LO1
Week 12 Hip hop and hiplife across the Black Atlantic Lecture and tutorial (2 hr) LO1
Week 13 Total world domination Lecture and tutorial (2 hr) LO1

Attendance and class requirements

  • Attendance: Students are expected to attend a minimum of 90% of timetabled activities for a unit of study, unless granted exemption by the Dean, Head of School or professor most concerned. The Dean, Head of School or professor most concerned may determine that a student fails a unit of study because of inadequate attendance. Alternatively, at their discretion, they may set additional assessment items where attendance is lower than 90%.

Study commitment

Typically, there is a minimum expectation of 1.5-2 hours of student effort per week per credit point for units of study offered over a full semester. For a 6 credit point unit, this equates to roughly 120-150 hours of student effort in total.

Required readings



Appadurai, A. (1990) ‘Disjuncture and Difference in the Global Cultural Economy.’ Public Culture, 2/2: 1–24. 

Denning, Michael. (2015) Excerpts from Noise Uprising: The Audiopolitics of a World Music Revolution. New York: Verso. 

Erlmann, V. (1988) ‘“A Feeling of Prejudice”: Orpheus M. McAdoo and the Virginia Jubiliee Singers in South Africa, 1890-1898.’ Journal of Southern African Studies, 14/3: 331-350. 

Erlmann, V. (1990) ‘“Singing Brings Joy to the Distressed”: The Early Social History of Zulu Migrant Workers’ Choral Music.’ Ethnomusicology, 34/2: 199–220. 

Stewart, Gary. (2000) Excerpts from Rumba on the River: A History of the Popular Music of the Two Congos. London: Verso.

Collins, John. (1989) ‘The Early History of West African Highlife Music.’ Popular Music, vol. 8, no. 3, 221-230.

Nigeria Freedom Sounds! Popular Music and the Birth of Independent Nigeria, 1960-63. Liner Notes. Soul Jazz Records. SJR CD341.

Olaniyan, Tejumola. (2001) ‘The Cosmopolitan Nativist: Fela Anikulapo-Kuti and the Antinomies of Postcolonial Modernity.’ Research in African Literatures, 32/2: 76-89.

Stewart, Alexander. (2013) ‘Make It Funky: Fela Kuti, James Brown and the Invention of Afrobeat.’ American Studies, vol. 52, no. 4, 99-118. 

Mento, Not Calypso: The Original Sound of Jamaica. Liner Notes. Fantastic Voyage. FVDD163.

Calypso: Musical Poetry in the Caribbean, 1955-69. Liner Notes. Soul Jazz Records. SJR CD274.

Putnam, Lara. (2013) Excerpts from Radical Moves: Caribbean Migrants and the Politics of Race in the Jazz Age. Chapel Hill, N.C.: University of North Carolina Press.

Heathcott, J. (2003) ‘Urban Space and Working-Class Expressions across the Black Atlantic: Tracing the Routes of Ska.’ Radical History Review. Issue no. 87, 183–206. 

Veal, M. (2007) Excerpts from Dub: Soundscapes and Shattered Songs in Jamaican Reggae. Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press.

Manuel, P., and W. Marshall. (2006) ‘The Riddim Method: Aesthetic, Practice, and Ownership in Jamaican Dancehall.’ Popular Music, 25/3: 447-70.

Dancehall: The Rise of Jamaican Dancehall Culture. Liner Notes. Soul Jazz Records. SJR CD401.

Cooper, Carolyn. (2004) Excerpt from Sound Clash: Jamaican Dancehall Culture at Large. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

Niaah, Sonjah. (2010) Excerpts from Dancehall: From Slave Ship to Ghetto. Ottawa: Ottawa University Press.

Herson, Ben. (2011) ‘A Historical Analysis of Hip-Hop’s Influence in Dakar from 1984-2000.’ American Behavioral Scientist, 55/1: 24–35. 

Cho, Glorya. (2010) ‘Hiplife, Cultural Agency and the Youth Counter-Public in the Ghanaian Public Sphere.’ Journal of Asian and African Studies, 45/4: 406–23. 

Hsu, Hua. (2011) ‘Seeing Jay-Z in Taipei.’ Daedalus, (Winter): 163–7.

Morgan, M., and D. Bennett. (2011) ‘Hip Hop and the Global Imprint of a Black Cultural Form.’ Daedalus, 140(2): 176-96. 

Learning outcomes are what students know, understand and are able to do on completion of a unit of study. They are aligned with the University's graduate qualities and are assessed as part of the curriculum.

At the completion of this unit, you should be able to:

  • LO1. communicate their interpretations of a given set of ideas from weekly readings
  • LO2. construct evidence-based, interpretive arguments about music and present them in written form
  • LO3. construct inventive and grounded interpretations of music through the use of a range of materials across several disciplines

Graduate qualities

The graduate qualities are the qualities and skills that all University of Sydney graduates must demonstrate on successful completion of an award course. As a future Sydney graduate, the set of qualities have been designed to equip you for the contemporary world.

GQ1 Depth of disciplinary expertise

Deep disciplinary expertise is the ability to integrate and rigorously apply knowledge, understanding and skills of a recognised discipline defined by scholarly activity, as well as familiarity with evolving practice of the discipline.

GQ2 Critical thinking and problem solving

Critical thinking and problem solving are the questioning of ideas, evidence and assumptions in order to propose and evaluate hypotheses or alternative arguments before formulating a conclusion or a solution to an identified problem.

GQ3 Oral and written communication

Effective communication, in both oral and written form, is the clear exchange of meaning in a manner that is appropriate to audience and context.

GQ4 Information and digital literacy

Information and digital literacy is the ability to locate, interpret, evaluate, manage, adapt, integrate, create and convey information using appropriate resources, tools and strategies.

GQ5 Inventiveness

Generating novel ideas and solutions.

GQ6 Cultural competence

Cultural Competence is the ability to actively, ethically, respectfully, and successfully engage across and between cultures. In the Australian context, this includes and celebrates Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, knowledge systems, and a mature understanding of contemporary issues.

GQ7 Interdisciplinary effectiveness

Interdisciplinary effectiveness is the integration and synthesis of multiple viewpoints and practices, working effectively across disciplinary boundaries.

GQ8 Integrated professional, ethical, and personal identity

An integrated professional, ethical and personal identity is understanding the interaction between one’s personal and professional selves in an ethical context.

GQ9 Influence

Engaging others in a process, idea or vision.

Outcome map

Learning outcomes Graduate qualities

This section outlines changes made to this unit following staff and student reviews.



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