This course traces the development of popular music styles and genres from the roots of rock ’n’ roll to the present day in both sonic and social contexts. We explore how popular music has both reflected and influenced major social changes, also identifying musical elements that define individual popular music genres, and how those elements have changed over time.
Selected case studies for each decade, drawn from the following styles, artists and events:
1. Roots of Rock ’n’ Roll to 1950
Delta Blues; Gospel; Country; Ragtime & Dixie; The Musical Legacies of Slavery; The Depression; The Great Migration & The Spread of the Blues; Electric Blues
The Legacy of Tin Pan Alley and the Music Industry Business Model
Rock ’n’ Roll; Rockabilly; Skiffle; Country; Rhythm & Blues
Post WW2 Affluence and the Emergence of the Teen Market
Folk Revival and Protest Songs; The Rise of the Canadian Singer-Songwriter; The British Invasion
The Civil Rights Movement; From Race Records to Motown; Counterculture and Psychedelia; Drug Culture; Pop Art and the New York Scene; Hippies & Beatniks
The Art of the Mixing Board (Dub); Funk; Jazz Fusion; Disco; Rock Music (Glam, Prog, Metal); Punk; New Wave
Challenging Gender Stereotypes; Punk and the Birth of the Indie Scene; Disaffected Youth; Independent Record Labels; Rock Against Racism
Hip Hop; Rap; Electro; Jamaican Dancehall; Indie; Mainstream Pop; Synth Pop
Digital Technology; Cell Phones; MTV
Grunge; Britpop; Tribute Bands; Urban; Trance; Acid House; Jungle; Drum & Bass; Trip Hop; Pop Punk; Nu Metal; Trance; Techno; Canadian Singer-Songwriters
Napster; Globalization; Digital Recording; The Industry Fights Back
Nu-Metal; Post Grunge; Singer-Songwriter; Alt Country; Unplugged
Digital Distribution; Bedroom Producers; The DIY Industry; The Impact of Declining Album Sales
Dubstep; EDM in North America; Indie; Pop
Streaming; YouTube Hits; Synchronization and New Business Models
Methods of Instruction
- Lecture and class discussion, with focus on active listening to music;
- Viewing of video programs on music;
- Attendance at live concert performance(s);
- Collaborative learning through student presentation(s).
Means of Assessment
As sample breakdown of assignments and examinations is as follows:
Annotated Timeline with Playlist 10%
Reviews of Live Concerts/Videos 30%
Weekly Listening and/or Reading Quizzes 20%
Final Examination 15%
At the end of the course the successful student will have developed:
- Awareness of the social factors affecting the development of popular music (e.g. technology, migration, economics and demographics) and of the role of popular music in driving social change;
- Vocabulary to describe musical and sonic characteristics of popular music and evolving production techniques;
- Critical listening skills, enabling detailed discussion of production values, aesthetics and song structure.
PEFA 1136, or MUSC 1120, or MUSC 1121, or permission of the instructor
Course Guidelines for previous years are viewable by selecting the version desired. If you took this course and do not see a listing for the starting semester/year of the course, consider the previous version as the applicable version.
Below shows how this course and its credits transfer within the BC transfer system.
A course is considered university-transferable (UT) if it transfers to at least one of the five research universities in British Columbia: University of British Columbia; University of British Columbia-Okanagan; Simon Fraser University; University of Victoria; and the University of Northern British Columbia.
For more information on transfer visit the BC Transfer Guide and BCCAT websites.
If your course prerequisites indicate that you need an assessment, please see our Assessment page for more information.