Course Details

Course offered Autumn 2014

Honors 394 B: Puget Sounds: Music History, Criticism, and Archiving in the Pacific NW (A&H / SSc)

Honors 394 B: Puget Sounds: Music History, Criticism, and Archiving in the Pacific NW (A&H / SSc)

SLN 15591 (View UW registration info »)

John Vallier (Ethnomusicology; Libraries)
Office: Suzzallo Library 370A, Box 352900
Phone: 206 616-1210

Credits: 5
Limit: 30 students

Honors Credit Type

What does Puget Sound music sound like? Does music from Seattle have a particular sonic signature? What ideological, political, and cultural currents have influenced the development of music in our region? What music has been left out of our region’s official musical narrative? What can YOU do to document and give voice to these musics in order to ensure they will live on for future generations to discover?

This class is an interdisciplinary mix, one that blends elements of ethnomusicology, music history/criticism, and archival studies. In it you will learn about the history of music in the Puget Sound region, become familiar with approaches to music criticism, and develop techniques for building your own music collection. At the core of the class is a growing archive of regional music recordings held by the UW Libraries. Called Puget Sounds, this archive documents music across genres, from folk to rock, jazz to classical, and includes both published and unpublished recordings (e.g., the Crocodile Cafe Collection, Vera Project Collection, more…). By the end quarter you will make contributions to the Puget Sounds Archive by way of creating new collections through original fieldwork and/or archiving legacy music collections. Student goals include…

• Developing a broader knowledge and appreciation of the plurality of music in the greater Seattle region;
• Forming a nuanced and critically informed understanding of what we mean by the term music;
• Building an understanding of archival and ethnomusicological issues and techniques, particularly as they apply to the collection, preservation, and interpretation of music;
• Building confidence with contributing to discussions in a seminar type setting;
• Learning how to make live field recordings.

No formal music training or knowledge is necessary. Everyone is welcome.

(Website from 2012 version of the course is available here: