Revolutions and music

Wednesday, Feb 26, 2020

In fall term 2019, Mari Jo Velasco’s freshman seminar “Revolutions and Music” explored the music and sonic practices of the American and French revolutions and their sociopolitical contexts.

Halfway through the fall semester, Dr. Velasco and her students had the unique experience to visit Firestone Library's Special Collections to examine Princeton Commencement ceremony programs and plays from 1760 - 1780s. The archival classroom filled with sound as students began sight-singing historical tunes and sharing interesting passages. Leafing through colonial-era manuscript commonplace books, students measured the importance of hymns and other musical materials to early Americans. They considered the role(s) of music and sound in the tense pre-revolutionary years. Music graduate student Christopher Parton also joined the class to lend his expertise, and to join in the exploration that these rare sources offer: so much remains to be known about the musical life of revolutionary-era America.

Open only to members of the freshman class, Freshman Seminars are designed to provide first-year students with an early opportunity to experience the excitement of working closely with an instructor and a small group of fellow students on a topic of special interest.

Mari Jo Velasco (fellow; music) speaking to first year students in Firestone Special Collections discussing printed music circa. 1760Christopher Parton (graduate student in Music) and students discuss music in Special Collections at Firestone Library.