Samba instructor Dill Costa from Rio de Janeiro conducts a Samba dance workshop, 10/26/2021. (Photo by Michael Allemana)

Welcome to the Fall 2021 edition of Chronicles of Song and Society, a collection of playlists and essays created by undergraduate students from the Introduction to World Music course at the University of Chicago. The playlists herein represent the students’ final projects, songs and essays that explore music and culture in a wide variety of social, political, and transnational contexts. Being our first quarter back after a year in quarantine, the students and I were thrilled to return to the classroom (safely distanced and masked). We had many lively discussions, listened to a broad range of music, and enjoyed visits from samba instructor Dill Costa and salsa trumpeter and percussionist Victor Garcia, both of whom conducted lively and insightful dance workshops.

Drawing from our fruitful discussions, readings, and listenings, each student has constructed a ten-song playlist that explores a social, political, or musical theme through a critical lens. Over the quarter, students would once a week add a song to a personal playlist and write about how that song connected to the week’s readings and discussions. After collecting eight songs, the students rounded out their playlists to ten, curated an order, and then wrote an essay that explains their curatorial choices and critically examines the social, political, and musical themes and contexts that their playlist addresses. The resulting playlists that comprise this website explore a wide variety of themes and present quite a diverse collection of musical artists and songs. You will find Bollywood songs, anime music, rock performances from different locales, K-pop, and numerous other genres and styles. Moreover, the students felt that the creation and maintenance of community through musical performance was a theme connecting the musical cultures we explored. Thus, we decided to represent musical community here with a section of Archibald J. Motley’s Nightlife in the header and a background image of the Mangueira escola de samba from the 2017 Carnival in Brazil (photo by Léo Queiroz).

We invite you to enter our site and explore the students’ chronicles of the innumerable ways musical cultures shape human interaction. Please take some time to peruse through these thought-provoking playlists and dig the insights. I am sure you will be just as impressed as I was with the students’ work.

Dr. Michael Allemana, Department of Music, University of Chicago