Music and Society Minor

The music and society minor at Berklee challenges students to read, think, discuss, and explore music as a product of cultural expression. Music and society courses explore the relationship among music, other performing and fine arts, literature, and politics. Additionally, music and society courses examine the way art production is affected and shaped by the consideration of identity, power, and social agency. Throughout their course of study, students examine the influence of culture on musical production, artistic expression, creativity, global culture, literature, mass media, and technology, and the roles artists have played in transforming society. Exploring issues of cultural diversity, multiculturalism, identity, leadership, ethics, and social and environmental justice helps students become global citizens using their music as a tool to enhance intercultural interaction and social change. This program prepares students for active and valued participation in the music industry. Preparation for professions such as composing, performing, teaching, providing therapy, and/or industry sales and advocacy is greatly enhanced by a deep analytical understanding of gender, racial, and global issues in the music industry and the culture.

At Berklee, the minor offers three tracks. Students may focus on Africana studies, gender studies, or global studies.

Music and Society: Africana Studies Track

Through the music and society minor Africana studies track, students explore the disciplines of Africana studies, black studies, and cultural studies. Students evaluate the racial and ethnic identities as presented by artists, musical groups, and society in general as they gain awareness of race as part of the multifaceted nature of identity. Students analyze the impact of African-American and African music on American music, as well as on music from other countries. The minor encourages students to analyze the impact of race and ethnicity in the presentation, representation, and interpretation in the performance and promotion of music. Students also examine the historical and sociological constructs of race and ethnicity as they draw insights from fields across the arts, humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences. The music and society minor Africana studies track also provides students with the theoretical and methodological skills necessary to understand a rapidly changing and increasingly complex and interconnected world.

Learning Outcomes

Upon completion of a minor in music and society Africana studies track, students will:

  • Synthesize and integrate knowledge from the disciplines of Africana studies, black studies, and cultural studies
  • Evaluate racial and ethnic identities as presented by artists, musical groups/styles, and society
  • Analyze the impact of African-American and African music on American music, as well as on music from other countries
  • Understand key terminology in the disciplines of Africana studies, black studies, and cultural studies
  • Compose written and oral communications
  • Apply critical thinking and practical reasoning

Required Course

  • LHIS-224 Africana Studies: The Sociology of Black Music in American Culture (3 credits)

Elective Courses (choose two from the following)

  • LHIS-225 Africana Studies: The Theology of American Popular Music (3 credits)
  • LHIS-226 Africana Studies: Biographies in Black (Music, Lives, and Meanings) (3 credits)
  • LSOC-355 City Life: Local and Global Perspectives (3 credits)
  • HR-361 World Music, Materials, and Concepts for the Contemporary Musician (2 credits)
  • LHAN-221 History of Jazz (2 credits)
  • LHAN-241 African American History, Culture, and Music 1 (2 credits)
  • LHAN-341 African American History, Culture, and Music 2 (2 credits)
  • LHAN-345 Music and Cultures of Africa, Latin America, and South America (2 credits)

Elective Courses (choose one from the following)

  • ENFF-301 The Music of Steve Coleman (1 credit)
  • ENFF-302 The Music of the Crusaders (1 credit)
  • ENFF-303 The Music of the Meters (1 credit)
  • ENPN-266 Gospel Keyboard Techniques Ensemble (1 credit)
  • ENRB-300 The Music of James Brown (1 credit)
  • ENRB-301 '70s R&B/Funk (1 credit)
  • ENRB-302 R&B/Funk Rating 5 (1 credit)
  • ENRB-303 R&B/Smooth Jazz (1 credit)
  • ENRB-401 The Music of P-Funk (1 credit)
  • ENRB-402 The Music of Tower of Power (1 credit)
  • ENRB-403 Hip-Hop Ensemble (1 credit)
  • ENRT-405 Reverence Gospel Ensemble (2 credits)
  • ENPC-374 West African Drum and Dance Ensemble (1 credit)
  • PS-180 Music and Life of Bob Marley (2 credits)
  • PSPR-361 Motown (2 credits)
  • PSW-341 The Music of Ghana (2 credits)
  • PSW-342 The Music of Guinea (2 credits)

Music and Society: Gender Studies Track

Through the music and society minor gender studies track, students explore the disciplines of gender studies, women studies, and cultural studies. Students evaluate the gendered identities presented by artists, musical groups, and society in general as they gain awareness of gender as part of the multifaceted nature of identity. The minor encourages students to analyze the impact of gender presentation, representation, and interpretation in the performance and promotion of music. Students also examine gendered identity in themselves and others, as they draw insights from fields across the arts, humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences. The music and society minor gender studies track also provides students with the theoretical and methodological skills necessary to understand a rapidly changing and increasingly complex and interconnected world.

Learning Outcomes

Upon completion of a minor in music and society gender studies track, students will:

  • Synthesize and integrate knowledge from the disciplines of gender studies, women studies, and cultural studies
  • Evaluate gendered identities as presented by artists, musical groups/styles, and society
  • Synthesize the awareness of gendered identity as part of the multifaceted nature of identity
  • Analyze the impact of gender presentation, representation, and interpretation in the performance and promotion of music
  • Comprehend gendered identity in self and others as part of culturally bound concepts of masculinity and femininity
  • Compose written and oral communications
  • Apply critical thinking and practical reasoning

Required Course

  • LSOC-220 Music, Gender and Society (3 credits)

Elective Courses (choose three from the following)

  • LAHS-233 Art History Topics: Gender and Visual Arts (3 credits)
  • LENG-365 Intercultural Communication (3 credits)
  • LHAN-245 Women in Music (2 credits)
  • LHIS-218 Women and Culture in the West: Route to Modern Feminism (3 credits)
  • LHIS-P320 20th Century Women Songwriters (3 credits)
  • LHIS-363 Gender and Power in History (3 credits)
  • LSOC-P230 Gender and Country Music (3 credits)
  • LSOC-240 Women in Rock Music (3 credits)
  • LSOC-P281 From Boys to Men: Masculinity in Contemporary Society (3 credits)
  • LSOC-371 Identity (3 credits)

Music and Society: Global Studies Track

Through the music and society minor global studies track, students explore the central issues confronting today's globalized world, as well as their historical, sociocultural, economic, and political origins. The minor encourages students to view issues from a global and interdisciplinary perspective, drawing on insights from fields across the arts, humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences. Students synthesize the tools necessary to understand the processes of globalization and their consequences, various types of conflict (e.g., cultural, religious, ethnic), obstacles to effective intercultural communication, and ways to enhance interaction among diverse groups of people around the world. The music and society minor global studies track also provides students with the theoretical and methodological skills necessary to understand a rapidly changing and increasingly complex and interconnected world.

Learning Outcomes

Upon completion of a minor in music and society global studies, track students will:

  • Explore dominant patterns of thinking, values, perceptions, customs, art forms, and worldviews across cultures
  • Evaluate the historical contexts, contemporary conditions, and effects of globalization, especially on the performance and production of music
  • Analyze the development and influences of today's global system of economic, political, and social relations
  • Appreciate the cultural and historical influences on the development of social structures, human beliefs and actions, and art forms.
  • Assess the process of intercultural conflict and resolution
  • Communicate effectively with people from diverse cultures

Required Course

  • LENG-365 Intercultural Communication (3 credits)

Elective Courses (choose three from the following)

  • LAHS-P230 Indian Art, Music, and Culture (3 credits)
  • LAHS-P234 Japanese Art and Culture (3 credits)
  • LENG-391 Children's Literature: Multicultural Perspectives (3 credits)
  • LHIS-215 History of Modern East Asia (3 credits)
  • LHIS-216 History of the Middle East (3 credits)
  • LHIS-221 World Revolutions (3 credits)
  • LHIS-224 Africana Studies: The Sociology of Black Music in American Culture (3 credits)
  • LHIS-P227 Multicultural Contemplative Practices (3 credits)
  • LHIS-301 International Human Rights (3 credits)
  • LHIS-334 Contemporary History (3 credits)
  • LHIS-363 Gender and Power in History (3 credits)
  • LPHL-382 Eastern Philosophy (3 credits)
  • LSOC-210 Introduction to Cultural Anthropology (3 credits)
  • LSOC-231 Culture, Diversity, and Artistry (3 credits)
  • LSOC-260 Cuban Music, Culture, and Society (3 credits)
  • LSOC-335 Modern Political Thought (3 credits)
  • LSOC-341 Irish and Celtic Culture, Film, and Music (3 credits)
  • LSOC-371 Identity (3 credits)
  • LSOC-375 New Blues for the Old South: Southern Culture and Change (3 credits)

4 courses required for completion of the minor.

For more information, contact:

Liberal Arts Department
7 Haviland, Room 334
617 747-2552
Chair: Simone Pilon, spilon@berklee.edu 
Liberal Arts Project Manager: Chris Jo, cjo@berklee.edu