Patrick Burke

Chair, Department of Music
Professor of Music
Performing Arts Department (Affiliate)
PhD, University of Wisconsin-Madison
BA, University of Pennsylvania
research interests:
  • jazz
  • rock
  • race in the United States; music, colonialism and empire
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    contact info:

    office hours:

    • By appointment

    mailing address:

    • Washington University
    • CB 1032
    • One Brookings Drive
    • St. Louis, MO 63130-4899
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    Professor Burke's research centers on jazz and popular music in the United States. He teaches courses on such topics as the history of jazz and popular music, music of the African diaspora, and the methods and theories of ethnomusicology.

    Patrick Burke received his B.A. in music at the University of Pennsylvania (1996) and his Ph.D. in ethnomusicology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison (2003). Since 2004, he has been a professor of music at Washington University in St. Louis, where he teaches undergraduate and graduate courses on such topics as the history of jazz and popular music, music of the African diaspora, and the methods and theories of ethnomusicology.  In 2013-14, he was a Guest Scholar at the University of Oslo, Norway, and he served on the editorial board of the Journal of the American Musicological Society from 2013 to 2018.  In past years, Prof. Burke has served as Director of Undergraduate Studies and Head of Musicology in the Department of Music. 

    Prof. Burke's research centers on jazz and popular music in the United States, with a focus on the relationship between music's performance and reception and the formation of racial ideology.  His work has been supported by fellowships from the American Musicological Society, the American-Scandinavian Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Social Science Research Council, and the Center for the Humanities at WUSTL.  Prof. Burke is the author of Come In and Hear the Truth: Jazz and Race on 52nd Street (University of Chicago Press, 2008) and Tear Down the Walls: White Radicalism and Black Power in 1960s Rock (University of Chicago Press, 2021). He was also project director, researcher, and writer for the digital humanities project Music and Racial Segregation in Twentieth-Century St. Louis: Uncovering the Sources (link below).  Prof. Burke’s current research addresses the role of the Norwegian shipping industry in establishing Western ideas and stereotypes about music of the global South during the Age of Empire. In addition to his academic work, Prof. Burke is a guitarist and composer.  He has also performed in a Javanese gamelan and on the amadinda, a Ugandan xylophone.



    Music 1021: Musics of the World (cross-listed with African and African American Studies)

    Music 1022: Popular Music in American Culture (cross-listed with African and African American Studies and American Culture Studies)          

    Music 3014: Ethnomusicology

    Music 3021: Music of the African Diaspora (cross-listed with African and African American Studies, American Culture Studies, and International and Area Studies)

    Music 3023: Jazz in American Culture (cross-listed with African and African American Studies and American Culture Studies)

    Music 3028: Music of the 1960s (cross-listed with American Culture Studies)


    Music 509: Introduction to Ethnomusicology

    Music 519: Music, Race, and Ethnicity




    Tear Down the Walls: White Radicalism and Black Power in 1960s Rock. University of Chicago Press, 2021.

    Come In and Hear the Truth: Jazz and Race on 52nd Street.  University of Chicago Press, 2008.

    Edited Works:

    Co-editor (with Gerald Early and Mina Yang), “American Music,” special issue of

    Daedalus: Journal of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (vol. 142, no. 4, Fall 2013).


    “Race and the New Jazz Studies,” forthcoming in The Routledge Companion to Jazz Studies (New York: Routledge).

    “Powell Hall: Safe Space, Comfort Zone,” forthcoming in edited collection The Material World of Modern Segregation: St. Louis in the Long Era of Ferguson (2018).

    “What Is Music?” Humanities 36, no. 1 (January-February 2015).

    “The Fugs, The Lower East Side, and the Slum Aesthetic in 1960s Rock,” Journal of the Society for American Music 8, no. 4 (November 2014): 538-566.

    “The Screamers,” Daedalus: Journal of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences 142, no. 4 (Fall 2013): 11-23.

    “Clamor of the Godz: Radical Incompetence in 1960s Rock,” American Music 29, no. 1 (Spring 2011): 35-63.

    “Rock, Race, and Radicalism in the 1960s: The Rolling Stones, Black Power, and Godard’s One Plus One,” Journal of Musicological Research 29, no. 4 (Fall 2010): 275-294.

    “Tear Down the Walls: Jefferson Airplane, Race, and Revolutionary Rhetoric in 1960s Rock,” Popular Music 29, no. 1 (January 2010): 61-79.

    “Oasis of Swing: the Onyx Club, Jazz and White Masculinity in the Early 1930s,” American Music 24, no. 3 (Fall 2006): 320-346.

    Reviews in:

    American Historical Review

    Belles Lettres

    The Common Reader


    Jazz Perspectives

    Journal of American History

    Journal of the Society for American Music

    Volume! La revue des musiques populaires 

    Western Historical Quarterly

    Tear Down the Walls: White Radicalism and Black Power in 1960s Rock

    Tear Down the Walls: White Radicalism and Black Power in 1960s Rock

    From the earliest days of rock and roll, white artists regularly achieved fame, wealth, and success that eluded the Black artists whose work had preceded and inspired them. This dynamic continued into the 1960s, even as the music and its fans grew to be more engaged with political issues regarding race. In Tear Down the Walls, Patrick Burke tells the story of white American and British rock musicians’ engagement with Black Power politics and African American music during the volatile years of 1968 and 1969. The book sheds new light on a significant but overlooked facet of 1960s rock—white musicians and audiences casting themselves as political revolutionaries by enacting a romanticized vision of African American identity. These artists’ attempts to cast themselves as revolutionary were often naïve, misguided, or arrogant, but they could also reflect genuine interest in African American music and culture and sincere investment in anti-racist politics. White musicians such as those in popular rock groups Jefferson Airplane, the Rolling Stones, and the MC5, fascinated with Black performance and rhetoric, simultaneously perpetuated a long history of racial appropriation and misrepresentation and made thoughtful, self-aware attempts to respectfully present African American music in forms that white leftists found politically relevant. In Tear Down the Walls Patrick Burke neither condemns white rock musicians as inauthentic nor elevates them as revolutionary. The result is a fresh look at 1960s rock that provides new insight into how popular music both reflects and informs our ideas about race and how white musicians and activists can engage meaningfully with Black political movements.

    “Music and Racial Segregation in Twentieth-Century St. Louis: Uncovering the Sources”

    “Music and Racial Segregation in Twentieth-Century St. Louis: Uncovering the Sources”

    Music is one of the primary means by which racial and ethnic categories are maintained and understood. As Ronald Radano and Philip Bohlman put it in their foundational 2000 book Music and the Racial Imagination, music both “contributes substantially to the vocabularies used to construct race” and “fills in the spaces between racial distinctiveness”—in other words, music sometimes helps build racial barriers and sometimes challenges and undermines them. The fundamental connection between music and race is especially notable in urban areas, where musical institutions, both formal and informal, reflect and shape racial inclusion and exclusion. St. Louis, notorious for its history of racial segregation but also widely celebrated for its vibrant musical heritage, provides a significant test case for questions about the connections between music and segregation in urban life.

    Come in and Hear the Truth

    Come in and Hear the Truth

    Between the mid-1930s and the late ’40s, the center of the jazz world was a two-block stretch of 52nd Street in Manhattan. Dozens of crowded basement clubs between Fifth and Seventh avenues played host to legends such as Billie Holiday and Charlie Parker, as well as to innumerable professional musicians whose names aren’t quite so well known. Together, these musicians and their audiences defied the traditional border between serious art and commercial entertainment—and between the races, as 52nd Street was home to some of the first nightclubs in New York to allow racially integrated bands and audiences. Patrick Burke argues that the jazz played on 52nd Street complicated simplistic distinctions between musical styles such as Dixieland, swing, and bebop. And since these styles were defined along racial lines, the music was itself a powerful challenge to racist ideology. 

    Come In and Hear the Truth uses a range of materials, from classic photographs to original interviews with musicians, to bring the street’s vibrant history to life and to shed new light on the interracial contacts and collaborations it generated.