Music History

 Our Mission

The Music History program at the University of Louisville School of Music offers a multi-faceted approach to the study of music across different historical and cultural contexts.


What We Do

Our courses emphasize skills that will help to prepare students for 21st-century careers in music, including critical thinking, research methods, listening and score study, communication, and digital literacy. In addition, we seek to inspire students to develop their curiosity and empathy for musical understandings and experiences beyond their own. Graduate students can take seminars on an array of topics and have the chance to work closely with our music history faculty. Undergraduate music majors take a three-semester music history sequence that covers music from antiquity to the present, as well as courses in African-American music and world music. For the general student population, we offer courses that cover musical genres including rock and roll, country, jazz, hip hop, music of the Broadway theater, film music, pop music, and electronic dance music. In addition, we offer both Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees in Music History for students who wish to focus on the study of music history. In keeping with the goals of the University and the School of Music, the music history concentration is committed to fostering equity and inclusion in the curriculum.

What's Happening Now


  • Jerry Tolson will present “It’s All About the Rhythm Section: The Key to Jazz Ensemble Success” at the KY Music Educators (KMEA) In-Service Conference, Louisville, KY, Feb 2022
  • Devin Burke is an invited panelist for the Digital Pedagogy Group on a session titled “Teaching (Outside the Canon & Textbook) with Digital Tools & Projects” at the American Musicological Society National Meeting, Nov 2021
  • Kirsten Carithers will present “Musical Indeterminacy as Critical and Affirmative Play” at the American Musicological Society National Meeting, Nov 2021


  • Jerry Tolson’s book African American Music: History and Heritage was just published with Great River Learning in 2021 (ISBN: 9781644965399)
  • Kirsten Carithers has two articles forthcoming in 2022, “Stockhausen as CEO: The Executive Model of Interpretive Labor” (Contemporary Music Review) and “Music History as Labor History: Rethinking ‘Work’ in Musicology” (Journal of Music History Pedagogy)

Faculty News

  • Jerry Tolson named a Jazz Educators of Iowa Hall of Fame Inductee, 2021
  • Alexandre Bádue joined the music history faculty as a lecturer (2021)
  • Devin Burke named UofL Outstanding Faculty Mentor of Master’s Students for 2020
  • Kirsten Carithers organized inaugural Women and Music Symposium at UofL (online half-day symposium with lecture-recitals and research presentations) and presented “‘Women’s Work’? New-Music Coordinators and Administrative Labor” (March 2021)

Student News



 Music History Faculty 

Jerry Tolson

  • Professor, Music Education & Jazz Studies;
    Department Chair of Academic and Professional Studies;
    Concentration Coordinator for Music History
  • Jazz History; African American Music;
    Jazz Pedagogy; Jazz Ensembles (Instrumental/Vocal);
    Music Education; Student Teacher Supervision
  • 502.852.6972
  • Room 327

Dr. Devin Burke

  • Assistant Professor, Music History
  • Opera & Theater History; Early Music;
    Music & Globalization; Politics & Music;
    Film Sound; Music & Visual Arts
  • 502.852.1869
  • Room: 223

Dr. Kirsten Speyer Carithers

  •  Assistant Professor, Music History
  • Experimental Music; Music & Labor;
    Ludomusicology; Media Studies;
    Contemporary Performance Practice; Interpretation/Hermeneutics
  • 502.852.4537
  • Room 216