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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


Assessment Item Weight
Listening Quiz 1 10%
Written Quiz 1 10%
Listening Quiz 2 10%
Written Quiz 2 10%
Listening Quiz 3 10%
On Campus Final Exam 50%
Total 100%

*Course details are subject to change.


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