Music, Religion, and America

Studying music without considering religion is just as impractical as studying religion without considering music. From rock bands to church choirs to Buddhist monks, this course examines multiple intersections between religion and music in the United States. What can we identify as distinctive about the American experience of music and religion? How do the terms “music,” “religion,” and “American” shift across sacred sonic practices? We will compare the use of music and sound in a number of different religions found in this country, from Native American practices to immigrant traditions based in Christianity, Islam, and more. Outside of specific faith communities, we will also explore the religious as a theme within US popular music. By the end of the course, students will have a broader understanding of a representative selection of American religions and their musics, as well as a deeper engagement with fundamental questions arising from the study of sacred sounds.


I enjoyed the hands on experience we had through each subject whether it be musical examples, outside guest, interactive activities and group work. The instructor had a very good knowledge of the material of each religion and religious themes discussed. She is very eager to teach and makes the discussions interesting.
— Syracuse University Student
I liked the actual analysis of music and history of actual songs/examples....Eye-opening. Never really looked at music like that.
— Another Syracuse University Student
My professor is very straight-forward and passionate about what she teaches....I liked the variety of subjects we learned. I can’t really think of any changes [I would make to the course].
— Yet Another Syracuse University Student