Rebecca Miller

Professor of Music
Hampshire College Professor Rebecca Miller
Contact Rebecca

Mail Code CS
Rebecca Miller
Adele Simmons Hall 208

On sabbatical fall 2023 and leave of absence spring 2024.

Rebecca (Becky) Miller received an A.B. from Bryn Mawr College, an M.A. from Wesleyan University, and a Ph.D. from Brown University in ethnomusicology. She conducted dissertation research as a Fulbright Fellow on the Caribbean island of Carriacou, Grenada.

Professor Miller's book, Carriacou String Band Serenade: Performing Identity in the Eastern Caribbean (Wesleyan University Press, 2008) examines social and political change through the performance of traditional music, song, and dance in Carriacou. Miller also has conducted fieldwork in Ireland as a Whiting Fellow (2006-2009) on popular Irish showband music for an upcoming project. As a public sector folklorist, she has documented and presented the traditional arts from a number of immigrant and refugee communities throughout the United States. Her work has culminated in publications, recordings, festivals, radio, and video documentaries.

Miller is the producer of the award-winning public radio series "Old Traditions-New Sounds" and is the co-producer/writer of the documentary video "From Shore To Shore: Irish Traditional Music in New York City." A fiddler, she plays southern old-time string band music, French Canadian music, Irish music, and klezmer, and she performs regularly throughout New England.

Recent and Upcoming Courses

  • In this course, students will read and try their hand at different types of music writing with a focus on African-American and Anglo-American genres. We will focus on music journalism, academic writing, fiction, memoir, and literary non-fiction, and, as a class, workshop our projects. We will learn basic music terminology and concepts in order to strengthen how we communicate about music; we will also do "deep listening" with respect to the music itself -- its structure, style, performance, and lyrics. There will be regular reading and listening assignments that cover a range of music, including rock/pop, rap, R&B, jazz, folk/traditional music, and others. Students will write several short pieces, a short music memoir, and a final academic essay on a music topic of their choice. Students will also choose a piece of music or a song, analyze it musically, structurally, and lyrically, and share their work in a short oral presentation. Keywords:Music,writing,lournslism,American Studies

  • In this course, we will learn the basics of radio journalism and producing podcasts, including interviewing, recording, scriptwriting, production, and the effective use of music and ambient sound. Students will produce three music-related pieces: a vox pop, a music recording review, and a podcast in a style consistent with public radio. Students will gain a working knowledge of sound editing techniques using Adobe Audition software. In addition to reading and listening assignments that introduce students to creative radio production, we will workshop students' projects in class. Students can borrow digital recorders, microphones, and other equipment from Media Services. Keywords:ournalism, radio, podcasting, media studies, music

  • This course focuses on the broad fundamentals of western music and music theory, including music literacy (how to read western music notation). We will look at concepts such as pitch, timbre, melody, and texture, and learn about rhythm, intervals, scales, chords, and harmony. We will develop our musical understanding through ear training, solfege singing, and "deep listening." This course will also connect music to theory by teaching students how to compose music. Students are required to attend a once/weekly ear training workshop on either Monday 7:00 - 8:30 pm or Thursday 4:30 - 5:50 pm in the Music Recital Hall. No prior music training or literacy is required. Keywords: music theory, listening, composition.

  • This course focuses on American southern old-time string band music, bluegrass, and early country song. We draw on cultural theory to explore the development of these musics throughout the 20th/21st centuries as well as the influences of African-American musical expression, class, gender, and music revivalism. We will consider old time and bluegrass both from a historical perspective and ethnographically as vital forms of folk expression in communities today. The course will include weekly reading/listening assignments, film screenings, short written assignments based on the reading, and other writing assignments. This course includes an optional performance component: interested students will learn to play old time music by ear and develop a repertoire of traditional dance music. Prior experience with old time music is not necessary, but a willingness to sing and/or a working knowledge of an acoustic stringed instrument is helpful (violin, guitar, mandolin, bass, cello, banjo, others). Keywords: music, ethnomusicology, American studies, performance, race, class, gender.