Michael Veal

Michael Veal's picture
Professor of Music, African American Studies

Michael Veal has been a member of the Yale faculty since 1998. Before coming to Yale, he taught at Mount Holyoke College (1996 – 1998) and New York University (1997-1998). Veal’s work has typically addressed topics within the musical sphere of Africa and the African diaspora. His 2000 biography of the Nigerian musician Fela Anikulapo-Kuti (Fela: The Life & Times of an African Musical Icon) uses the life and music of one of the most influential African musicians of the post-WWII era to explore themes of African post-coloniality, musical and cultural interchange between cultures of Africa and the African diaspora, and the political uses of music in Africa. His documentation of “Afrobeat” will continue with the forthcoming as-told-to autobiography Tony Allen: Master Drummer of Afrobeat. His 2007 study of Jamaican dub music (Dub: Soundscapes and Shattered Songs in Jamaican Reggae) examines the ways in which the studio-based innovations of Jamaican recording engineers during the 1970s transformed the structure and concept of the post-WWII popular song, as well as the theme of how sound technology can be used to articulate themes of spirituality, history and politics. His forthcoming book Technotopia 1969: Miles Davis at the Crossroadssurveys an under-documented period in the life and career of Miles Davis, examines the role of sound recordings in the construction of jazz history, and takes an analytical approach to the years of “electric jazz” prior to its commodification as “jazz-rock fusion.”

Undergraduate courses that Professor Veal has taught have included: Music Cultures of the World; Theory & Practice of Ethnomusicology; Traditional and Contemporary Musics of Sub-Saharan Africa; Jazz in Transition 1960 -1985; Funk – The Re-Africanization of the American Popular Song Form; Jazz & Architecture; and Popular Music: The Experimental Tradition. Graduate courses have included: Music in Africa; The Recording Studio in Sonic and Cultural Perspective; Topics in Jazz Studies; and Recalibrating the Ethnographic Radar.

Selected Publications:

—Fela: The Life and Times of an African Musical Icon (Temple University Press, 2000)

Dub: Songscape, Studio Craft, Science Fiction, and the Shattering of Song Form in Jamaican Reggae (Wesleyan University Press, 2007)

Selected Articles:

—“Miles Davis and the Unfinished Project of Electric Jazz” Raritan, Summer 2002

—“African Music and African-American Audiences” New York Times, 17 July 2001

—Guest Editor, Glendora Review (Lagos, Nigeria) Music Issue, Summer 2004