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Course Description

Singer at a microphone

A survey of the major genres, styles, personalities and performance of popular music primarily in the 20th-century through lectures, listening, discussion and reading. Issues such as the relationships between popular music and race, class, technology, and art will be examined. Technical knowledge of music is not required.

Learning Outcomes

By the end of the course, the learner should be able to:

  1. Aurally identify North American pop music from any period in the 20th century;
  2. Aurally identify some of the major performances in the pop repertoire;
  3. Explain the significance of these performances;
  4. Describe styles and specific performances;
  5. Use musical and social language related to pop music in appropriate ways; and
  6. Draw connections between social and cultural phenomena and musical practices.

Course Topics

  • Basic tools for studying popular music
  • Dominant culture vs. Underground cultures
  • The birth of Rock and Roll
  • Rock and roll evolves: The rise of the producer
  • The British invasion
  • American responses to the British invasion
  • The emergence of soul
  • Psychedelic/acid rock
  • Rock explodes: Recording techniques and new styles
  • Black pop and the rise of disco
  • Rock subversion: Punk and the New wave vs. MTV
  • The quest for authenticity: Metal, rap and alternative rock

Additional Requirements

Pre-Requisite(s): 2.00 credits


Assessment Item Weight
Listening Quizzes (3 x 10% each) 30%
Written Quizzes (2 x 15% each) 30%
Online Final Exam 40%
Total 100%


Additional Technical Requirements

This course will use the following:

  • Respondus tool to invigilate one or more exams. 

Please view the Technical Considerations for each.

Technical Requirements

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*Course details are subject to change.

Enrol Now - Select a section to enrol in
Section Title
Music and Popular Culture
January 10, 2022 to April 08, 2022
Contact Hours
Delivery Options
Course Fee(s)
Domestic Tuition Fee (0.5 units) $683.39 Click here to get more information
International Tuition Fee (0.5 units) $2,908.38 Click here to get more information
Available for Credit
0.5 units
Reading List / Textbook
Note: There are two available textbook formats: hardcopy and e-book. Either format is fine and will stand alone. You will also be using information on the publisher’s website; however, the use of the materials in question is free and will not require the purchase of a separate code. These materials are NOT the e-book. The e-book is NOT free and must purchased through an access code if you prefer it to a hard copy.
Section Notes

Note:  If you are in a degree program at the University of Guelph, please DO NOT register using the link above.  You must register through WebAdvisor.

Section Materials
  • Textbook (Confirmed) (Mandatory) Package - What's That Sound?: An Introduction to Rock and Its History plus Access Code by John Covach and Andrew Flory © 2018 W. W. Norton and Company, Inc. 5th edition ISBN 9780393624144
  • Textbook (Confirmed) (Mandatory) Loose Leaf ISBN 9780393624151
  • Publishers Access Code (Confirmed) (Mandatory) Access Code Only ISBN 9780393624168
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