First off, I would like to add my congratulations to Alex Ross, for his well-deserved 2008 MacArthur Fellowship. I'm really leaning toward using his book for my non-music majors in next semester's course, Music of the Twentieth Century. If anyone has any other suggestions appropriate for the non-major, I'll be happy to consider them. I find that a lot of the standard textbooks are unsuitable as they get bogged down in musical details that will be meaningless to those without musical background, OR they make blatant (and erroneous) stylistic generalizations about the music of the 20th century. Nope, I'm not naming names.
Earlier this year, Ryan posted about the merits of YouTube as a research/teaching tool, and this resulted in a fascinating discussion. While I took sort of a hard line against the citation of YouTube clips as authoritative sources (since they can be heavily edited), I have found myself calling upon YouTube (in class) a whole lot this semester. We read a chapter in Stephen Marini's Sacred Song in America about the Sacred Harp tradition. Marini is wonderfully descriptive in his writing about the modern tradition, but I have a feeling this particular YouTube clip really helped my students "get it." Somehow, a homemade video of this Sacred Harp convention (they are singing from the Missouri Harmony) seemed appropriate...maybe even more than nuanced documentary footage.