American Popular Music & Media

This course considers the history of American popular music as delivered by successive mass media platforms in the industrial and post-industrial eras: from mass-produced sheet music in the mid nineteenth century to digital music and video on the internet. Historical contextualization and in depth analysis of musical scores and various kinds of audio recordings and audiovisual texts will be at the center of the course.

Topics to be considered include:

  • the history of sound recording technologies and formats
  • the role of electronic mass media structures (radio, film, television, the internet)
  • urbanization, national commercial music centers (New York, Hollywood, Nashville), and the importance of regional sounds in a national context
  • the formation and transformation of select genres (rock, country, various black musics)
  • legal frameworks relating to music as a commodity (copyright, sampling)
  • the impact of visual media on music dissemination, performance, and meanings
  • how recorded media of all kinds have transformed the act of listening. Issues of race, gender, sexuality, personal, and national identity will be considered across the course.

Prerequisites: Music 121C and 122C (Theory I and II) or Music 121J and 122J (Jazz Theory I and II)