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Music Grooves Essays And Dialogues For Kids

Collection Overview

Title: Charles Keil Papers, 1965-1998, (bulk 1970-1990)

Collection Number: 16/8F/1064

Creator: Keil, Charles

Extent: 15 manuscript boxes, 1 half box (6.46 linear feet)

Language of Material: Collection material in English.

Repository: State University of New York at Buffalo. University Archives

Abstract: Collection of materials from Charles Keil, ethnomusicologist and professor of American Studies. Includes his teachings, publications, political activism, resource material, and his work in the University at Buffalo American Studies, Music, and Anthropology departments.

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

[Description and dates], Box/folder number, 16/8F/1064, Charles Keil Papers, 1965-1998 (bulk 1970-1990), University Archives, The State University of New York at Buffalo.

See the Archives' preferred citations instructions for additional information.

Acquisition Information

Records were donated by Charles Keil in 2000.

Terms of Access

Charles Keil Papers, 1965-1998 (bulk 1970-1990) are open for research.


Copyright of papers in the collection may be held by their authors, or the authors' heirs or assigns. Researchers must obtain the written permission of the holder(s) of copyright and the University Archives before publishing quotations from materials in the collection. Most papers may be copied in accordance with the library's usual procedures unless otherwise specified.

Processing Information

Processed by Erin Verhoef, June 2006.

Accruals and Additions

No further accruals are expected to this collection.

Biographical Note

Ethnomusicologist Charles Keil was born August 12, 1939 in Norwalk, CT. He earned his undergraduate degree in American Studies from Yale University in 1961, and went on to the University of Chicago to earn his MA (1964) and PhD (1979), both in Anthropology. His MA thesis, Urban Blues, won the Roy D. Albert Prize, University of Chicago, for best Master's Thesis, 1963-1964. Village Voice music critic Robert Christgau comments on Keil's first publication:

It would be difficult to overstate how significant Urban Blues was for rock criticism and popular music studies, neither more than a gleam in a nerd's eye when he wrote it... for Keil to embark upon a serious study of currently popular entertainers who earned good livings with electric guitars was a radical departure that heartened a generation of like-minded listeners back when it still took chutzpah to admire James Joyce and James Brown in the same lifetime, much less the same sentence.*

His dissertation, Tiv Song, was the product of two years of fieldwork in Nigeria from 1965 to 1967, just before the outburst of the Biafra-Nigerian war. It was a study of song culture among the Tiv population, who live in nearly classless communities. The book was a co-winner of the Chicago Folklore Prize in 1980.

His interest in African culture and politics led him to become president of the Buffalo chapter of the American Committee to Keep Biafra Alive (1968-1970). Throughout his life, he has always kept apprised of political issues in Africa.

Though he published many papers during the 1980's, Keil did not publish a full length book again until Polka Happiness (1992), a collaboration with his wife, Angeliki Keil and photographer Richard Blau. He then published My Music (1993), Music Grooves (1994), Bright Balkan Morning: Romani Lives and the Power of Music in Greek Macedonia (2002), and Born to Groove (2006). <http://borntogroove.org/> Other than his first two publications, all of these titles were collaborations with other researchers and writers.

Keil spent thirty years as an American Studies (AMS) professor at the University at Buffalo before he retired in 2000. Playing an integral role in establishing the PhD program in AMS, he helped to make the department one of the most prestigious in the country. He taught seventeen different classes, many of which were cross-listed in the Anthropology and Music departments. He was director of Graduate Studies (1970-1977), acting chair of the Department of American Studies (1978-1979 and 1992), and he was director of Undergraduate Studies (1986-1989). He also spent summer sessions as a visiting lecturer at Trent University (1982-1983).

Active and outspoken in the University at Buffalo community, Keil was one of the 45 faculty members to be arrested during the 1970 protest against police presence on campus. He and colleague Michael Frisch (aka Vizzy Goth) co-wrote a song, "Hayes Hall Blues," about the incident in order to raise legal defense funds. [45 rpm phonorecord in University Archives collection # 3/5/33, Campus Unrest at the State University of New York at Buffalo Records]

A founding member of Buffalo's famous Afro-Latin dance band "Outer Circle Orchestra," Keil also spent time playing with the "12/8 Path Band" and "Biocentrics." Though a dedicated performer, his true passion is fostering musical expression in young people.

Frustrated with the state of public education, he helped to co-found the Central Community School in 1970. He and Angelika wanted their two children to attend a school that was committed to creative thinking and expression.

In 1990, Keil founded Musicians United for Superior Education, Inc. (M.U.S.E.). <http://www.musekids.org/index.html> M.U.S.E. is a unique not-for-profit organization of artists and educators dedicated to increasing children's access to culturally diverse performing-arts instruction. "Activity and participation in a music-dance tradition prepares children for a life well-lived at many deep and mostly unconscious levels-how to be in time, in tune, in graceful synchrony with other people, how to be an energetic presence and shining individual in tight relationships with many others simultaneously," he says. "We have to reinvent the traditions before they're completely gone."

Currently in 2006 (at the writing of this Biographical Note), Charles Keil is collaborating on two books, Polka Theory: Perspectives on the Will to Party; and The Rhythm Section. In his retirement, he keeps busy maintaining a website, 12/8 Path and a blog, Conserving Consensus. Available online at: <http://128path.org/> and <http://conservingconsensus.us/>

Scope and Content Note

This collection documents the academic and community work of Charles Keil for the duration of his time as a professor at the University at Buffalo. This includes information on courses, individual students, the Department of American Studies, publications, and community activism.

Keil's work as a professor and activist is documented in his correspondence, articles, interviews and research. Subjects covered include campus unrest, world politics (primarily African politics), world music, human rights, and community outreach.

III. records some of the Department of American Studies' activity through the notes and records Keil kept during his time there. The struggle for approval of a Ph.D. program and bureaucratic structuring and restructuring of the university, including the Tolstoy College experiment, are documented here.

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Container List

I.     Courses

Series contains lecture notes and student work from specified courses. Most of the course information in this collection pertains to the Music in Culture and Musics of the World courses. Music in Daily Life, a fieldwork course, is listed in Subseries A of Series IV because of its relation to Keil's published work. Course information regarding AMS 109 and AMS 621 were in files labeled "fieldwork course." AMS 621 was taught by other American Studies faculty members and had a flexible curriculum. Keil taught this course at Auburn Correctional Facility, the documentation of which is available in Series III. Department of American Studies.


Course notes, 1973-1991, no date; includes autobiography and a "Day in the Life of Keil."


New York Times project, 1975


Student work, 1981-1991, no date

I.B    Music in Culture and Musics of the World

Music and Culture and Musics of the World were filed together due to their many similarities. During the years covered in the collection, both courses were listed under AMS 209 (though Musics of the World was sometimes listed under AMS 210). There is significant cross-over of covered topics and many of the lecture notes, quizzes, and articles are interchangeable. Copies of student papers were retained for their research value, and also as examples for future classes. Almost all student work includes Keil's critical comments. Arrangement: Student work is arranged by assignment and then chronologically.

Course evaluations, 1983-1996


Handouts and materials on reserve, 1970-1997, no date


Lecture notes (handwritten), 1970-1997, no date


Lecture notes (typed), 1970-1997, no date


Tests and term paper notes, 1970-1997, no date


Student work, 1970-1997, no date

[15 folders]


Survey of students, no date;includes written survey filled out by students about their relationship to music.


Afro-Asian Musical Praxis (AMS 128), 1989, no date


American Lives (AMS 199), 1964, no date


American Lives and Environments (AMS 200), 1974, no date


Blues course student work, 1987


Contemporary Popular Song (AMS 111), 1995


"Dylan seminar," no date


"History of Imperialism," no date


Modern Greece (AMS 476/576), no date


Problems in Cross-cultural Education: Africa and Afro-America (AMS 612) no date


General courses, 1968-1990, no date;includes Percussion Practicum (AMS 311), Applied Sociomusicology (AMS 432), Seminar in Comparative Culture (AMS 511), and Thinking Green (Ams 130).


Course proposals, no date

II.     Student files

Student files containing work and correspondence primarily pertaining to courses, dissertation or thesis work, independent study, and advising issues. Originally, each student had their own folder. In processing, the smaller files were combined into the folders called "other student files." Some of the work, specifically the term papers, included in this series were saved by Keil for their interesting subject matter or to be used as examples for future classes. All student work includes Keil's critical comments.

Series begins with collection of smaller, general student files and then goes into individual student files, which are in alphabetical order.

6.1 Advising issues, no date
6.2 Correspondence, 1970-1998
6.3-6.7 Other student files, 1970-1998
7.2 Student surveys, no date

II.A    Individual student files


Barreira, Jose,1989-1990


Collins, John,1987-1995


Dimitriadis, Greg, 1994


Edwards, Wanda, 1993 [see also: Visions of Empowerment festival, located in Series III. Department of American Studies]


Fairchild, Charles, 1995-1996


Haq, Faizan, 1997-1998


Hoffman, Nan, 1980-1982


"Kahlil's course," no date; includes a syllabus and notes from a class taught by one of Keil's students.


Koperski, Kate, 1980


Kramer, Jake,1989-1990


Kreuzer, Lynn,1972-1974, no date


Kwiecien, Frederick,1992-1994


Levinson, Michael Stephen, 1970; includes course proposal and description of political mission.


McClusky, Laura,1996


Munch, John, 1989-1990


Papazaharias, Stefanos,1984


Rivera, Gilberto,1990-1995


Rosado, Sylvia, 1989


Sapierski, Paul, 1975


Skibo, Norman, 1990


Steenland, Kyle, 1972-1973


Wetmore, Joseph, no date.


Zhang, Lan,1990-1993

10.1 Clippings, 1972-1982, no date; includes event posters and articles.
10.2-10.3 Correspondence, 1970-1995

III.A    Administrative information

Department records collected by Keil.
Series is alphabetical and then chronological.

"AMS visions," 1996-1998


Courses and program proposals, 1969-1997, no date

A unique collaboration between two of the most challenging voices studying music today, this volume explores the dual themes of musical participation and musical mediation. A number of the authors' most important essays, thoroughly revised and updated, are introduced and framed by dialogues that supply additional context, introduce retrospective concerns, and reveal previoA unique collaboration between two of the most challenging voices studying music today, this volume explores the dual themes of musical participation and musical mediation. A number of the authors' most important essays, thoroughly revised and updated, are introduced and framed by dialogues that supply additional context, introduce retrospective concerns, and reveal previously unseen connections. This format expresses the authors' desire for a more reflexive, experimental discourse on music and society and invites readers to join their conversations. Music Grooves ranges from jazz, blues, polka, soul, rock, world beat, rap, karaoke, and other familiar genres to major scholarly debates in music theory and popular culture studies. The authors cover vital issues in media studies, ethnomusicology, popular culture studies, anthropology, and sociology, while discussing musics from America, Greece, Cuba, Africa, and Papua New Guinea and artists as diverse as James Brown, Aretha Franklin, Li'l Wally Jagiello, Bo Diddley, Walt Solek, Madonna, Paul Simon, Miles Davis, Thelonious Monk, and Billie Holiday....more

Paperback, 412 pages

Published February 1st 2005 by Fenestra Books (first published January 26th 1994)

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