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New Orleans Music

Adapted from Tulane University MUSC 1900

New Orleans is an American city with a unique history as a European colony, a hub for the slave trade, and a destination for immigrants from Europe and the Americas. The city’s celebrated musical traditions have been created by a diverse mix of people and shaped by their interactions in the shared spaces of the city. This course is intended as an introductory survey of New Orleans music, including jazz, brass band, gospel, Mardi Gras Indian, rhythm and blues, funk, and hip-hop, through writings, audio and visual examples, and suggested supplementary readings.

Course PDF

Matt Sakakeeny

Assistant Professor of Music

Matt Sakakeeny is an anthropologist of music who has lived in New Orleans since 1997. In his book, Roll With It: Brass Bands in the Streets of New Orleans, he follows brass band musicians as they march off the streets and into nightclubs, festival grounds, and recording studios. Matt also writes essays, produces public radio pieces on New Orleans culture, and teaches courses on a variety of topics ranging from classical music to New Orleans music.

Matt’s website

  • About This Chapter

    In Louisiana's French and Spanish colonial era of the 18th century, slaves were permitted to gather and sell goods every Sunday…

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    New Orleans is a city of parades, most famously the Mardi Gras processions that roll down the wide boulevards of St.…

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    Focusing on music during the colonial and antebellum periods, we might expect that the city was most associated with the famed…

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    By the time of the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, New Orleans was already a music city, offering bals masqués, opera and…

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    New Orleans was founded by Catholics but has a long tradition of black Protestantism that dates back to Emancipation, when tens…

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    Mardi Gras Indians are African Americans who form "tribes" or "gangs" that hold weekly practices in bars throughout New Orleans and…

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    New Orleans rhythm and blues refers to a type of R&B music from the U.S. city of New Orleans, Louisiana, characterized…

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    New Orleans has a long, unbroken tradition of “Piano Professors” that stretched back to the ragtime era with Tony Jackson and…

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    Funk has its roots in the syncopated rhythms of New Orleans drummers, who influenced James Brown and other international stars of…

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    Hip-hop holds a tenuous place in New Orleans culture. On the one hand, the city is associated with traditional styles of…

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    In the city known as the “birthplace of jazz,” traditional jazz has always found an audience while modern jazz has struggled.…

  • About This Chapter

    New Orleans music continues to flourish in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. In fact, research by Tulane professors Nick Spitzer and…