Course Details

Course offered Autumn 2016

HONORS 240 B: American Sabor: Latinos in U.S. Popular Music

HONORS 240 B: American Sabor: Latinos in U.S. Popular Music (VLPA, DIV)

SLN 15845 (View UW registration info »)

Marisol Berrios-Miranda (Music)

Credits: 5
Limit: 25 students

Honors Credit Type

H-Arts & Humanities


Latino contributions to popular music in the United States have too often been relegated to the margins of a narrative dominated by African and European Americans-an overly black and white view of our musical history. Latin music is often portrayed as an exotic resource for “American” musicians, as suggested by pianist Jelly Roll Morton’s reference to “the Latin Tinge.” This course turns that phrase and that perspective on its head. “American Sabor” addresses problems of cultural representation that concern an increasingly visible and influential community in the U.S. We will document the roles of U.S. Latino musicians as interpreters of Latin American genres. We will also highlight their roles as innovators within genres normally considered indigenous to the U.S., such as rock and roll, R & B, jazz, country/western, and hip hop. The course distinguishes regional centers of Latino population and music production-exploring unique histories,
artists, and musical styles. At the same time it draws out broader patterns of boundary crossing, language, social struggle, generational difference, racial/ethnic/class/gender
identification, and other factors that shape the experiences of U.S. Latinos everywhere.


The goals of this course include learning to distinguish a variety of music styles and develop a rudimentary vocabulary for describing musical sounds and instruments; learning about the histories of specific U.S. Latinos and their music: learning about the ways Latino musicians have shaped U.S. popular music generally; and considering a variety of social and historical factors to which music-making in U.S. Latino communities responds, including immigration and migration, racism, gender inequality, the music industry and media generally, and changing U.S. identity politics.