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Musical Cultures of the Gulf South+

The Gulf South produced a distinctive set of musical cultures that continues to influence national and international musical currents: jazz, blues, zydeco, Cajun music, and brass-band music. As a city central to the African diaspora, New Orleans gave birth to a pan-African regional culture equally influenced by immigrants from the Caribbean – Cuba and Haiti, in particular – as by the ruling nations of Spain and France.

The mission of this coordinate undergraduate major is to educate students in the underlying currents of these musical cultures through a historical grasp of the Atlantic slave trade; the rituals of expressive culture and resistance in the Caribbean; and the social, economic, and political history of the region. The Gulf South extends from Texas across the coasts of Louisiana, Alabama, and Mississippi, around Florida into the Caribbean, where Cuba lies a mere 90 miles away. “New Orleans music” is a rubric that stretches from ragtime to hip-hop, and includes the city’s seminal influence on rock and roll, funk, and rhythm and blues, as each assumed national form.

New Orleans remains the site of a range of vibrant living cultural traditions, including Mardi Gras Indians, second-line culture of Social Aid and Pleasure clubs, and Creole and Cajun cuisine. This coordinate major is offered under the auspices of the New Orleans Center for the Gulf South. As a coordinate major, it requires that students take on a first major in any other field before declaring a major in MCGS.