This course will focus on the history and analysis of rock, R&B, and other popular styles that influenced and interacted with them. Topics include the distinctions (and similarities) between various sub-categories and chronological periods, roles of the primary instruments used and how these roles have evolved, vocal styles, song form, and the racial, cultural, and economic dynamics influencing the music. Through reading and listening to many recordings, students will become familiar with many of the important figures in rock and R&B music, including Elvis Presley, Ray Charles, the Beatles, Bob Dylan, Aretha Franklin, and many others. (3 credits)
Student Learning Outcomes (SLOs)
Students who successfully complete this course will be able to discuss:
- Identify the roles (and the evolution of the roles) of instruments in rock, R&B, and other related musical genres (including the ability to aurally identify each instrument and, where applicable, the way these instruments interact with one another).
- Explain the basic structures and principles that factor into the creation and evolution of rock, R&B, and other related musical genres.
- Discuss the primary characteristics of sub-styles of rock, R&B, and other related musical genres.
- Explain the historical/musical significance and primary contributions of important musicians in rock, R&B, and other related musical genres.
- Identify the general significance and style of significant artists and groups in rock, R&B, and other related musical genres.
- Analyze the elements of roles, structures, principles, and characteristics when writing about musical recordings.
General Education Outcomes (GEOs)
Course Activities and Grading
Discussions (Weeks 1-8)
Comparative Essays (Weeks 2 & 4)
Performance Review (Week 6)
Final Project (Week 7)
Available through Charter Oak State College's online bookstore
- Garofolo, Reebee. Revel for Rockin' Out: Popular Music in the U.S.A, Updated Edition - with Access Card. 6th ed. Pearson Education, 2017. ISBN-13: 978-0-13-432377-0 [ebook version]
Additional Required Materials
(not available through bookstore)
- Playlist of songs available online on Spotify.
- Access to Spotify (see Additional Information below)
- Admission to one concert - cost depends on concert chosen (could be a free bar/club show, a large concert or anything in between).
Readings and Exercises
Topic: Introduction; How Rock Music Works: The Basics
Topic: The Pre-History of Rock
Topic: The Development of R&B
Topic: Early Rock Part 1
Topic: Early Rock Part 2
Topics: Backlash and Retreat
Topic: The 1960s Part 1
Topic: The 1960s Part 2
Topic: Miscellaneous Styles of the 1970s
Topics: Punk, New Wave and Disco
Topic: Rock Developments of the 1980s
Topic: Rap and Metal
Topic: Rock Developments of the 1990s
Topic: The 21st Century
Topic: Discussion of Final Projects (read, comment, Q &A)
The listening examples you will be expected to study for class assignments can be found in playlists on Spotify (www.spotify.com). Spotify "Premium" (which costs approximately $10/month or $5/month for a student account) allows for an ad-free environment and the capacity to listen to the tracks offline without purchasing them. However, the free version of Spotify is also fully-functional for the purposes of this class if you can handle some commercials and are doing your listening from a web-connected computer (note that on a mobile device you can only listen in Shuffle Mode with the free version of Spotify, which won’t allow you to hear the tunes you need on demand). The course playlist can be found, depending on whether you have the Spotify program/app installed or are using it in a browser, at:
NOTE: There will be a small number of assigned songs you will need to acquire through other means (such as iTunes). This will be addressed more specifically in an announcement the first week of class.
COSC Accessibility Statement
Charter Oak State College encourages students with disabilities, including non-visible disabilities such as chronic diseases, learning disabilities, head injury, attention deficit/hyperactive disorder, or psychiatric disabilities, to discuss appropriate accommodations with the Office of Accessibility Services at OAS@charteroak.edu.
COSC Policies, Course Policies, Academic Support Services and Resources
Students are responsible for knowing all Charter Oak State College (COSC) institutional policies, course-specific policies, procedures, and available academic support services and resources. Please see COSC Policies for COSC institutional policies, and see also specific policies related to this course. See COSC Resources for information regarding available academic support services and resources.