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MUS 135: Music of the Beatles

Course Description

In this course, students will study the groundbreaking rock band the Beatles. Though there will be some discussion of historical and sociological context, the main focus will be on their music. Students will learn about the chronology of the Beatles’ recorded works, the distinctions (and similarities) among the works and chronological periods in the group’s life, and the roles of the primary and secondary instruments used in their music and how the individuals in the band approached these instruments. Through reading and listening to many Beatles recordings, students will become familiar with the full scope of their work, while also examining their influences, their contemporaries and the subsequent solo work of the band’s members.

Prerequisite(s)

  • ENG 101: English Composition 1
  • While musical training and vocabulary are not prerequisites for this class, students should be comfortable with the idea of listening to music analytically. The ability to aurally distinguish instruments from one another (for example, hearing the difference between a saxophone and a trumpet) will be helpful.

Student Learning Outcomes (SLOs)

Students who successfully complete this course will gain an understanding of:

  1. The styles, roles and evolution of the following instruments in the Beatles’ music (including the ability to aurally identify each instrument and, where applicable, the way these instruments interact with one another):
    • vocals (lead and background)
    • acoustic guitar
    • electric guitar
    • bass
    • piano
    • electric and electronic keyboards
    • drum set
    • horns (saxophone, trumpet, etc.)
    • strings
  2. The basic structures and principles that factor into the creation and evolution of the Beatles’ music and rock in general, including:
    • song form
    • arrangement and orchestration
    • the rhythm section
    • improvisation
    • reciprocal influences with other artists and other forms of music (including classical, jazz, blues, ethnic music, and so on)
  3. The style, historical/musical significance and primary contributions of:
    • John Lennon
    • Paul McCartney
    • George Harrison
    • Ringo Starr
    • George Martin
  4. The lyrical style of the Beatles, including the evolution of their use of such elements as:
    • word choices
    • imagery
    • rhyme scheme
    • lyrical content and subject matter
  5. The general significance and style of several other significant rock artists and groups whose music intersected with that of the Beatles, including the following:
    • Lonnie Donnegan
    • Chuck Berry
    • Smokey Robinson
    • Bob Dylan
    • The Rolling Stones
    • The Beach Boys
    • The Bee Gees
  6. The process of listening to and writing about music in an analytical manner.

General Education Outcomes (GEOs)

Please check the applicable GEOs for this course, if any, by outcomes at GEO Category Search, or by subject area at GEO Discipline Search.

Course Activities and Grading

Assignment(s)

Weight

Discussion Board

35%

Comparative Essays

35%

Quiz (Week 1)

5%

Final Project

25%

Total

100%

Required Textbooks

(Available through Charter Oak’s online bookstore)

  • Textbook: Womack, Kenneth (2007). Long and Winding Roads: The Evolving Artistry of the Beatles ISBN-10: 0826417469 or ISBN-13: 9780826417466
  • DVD:A Hard Day's Night, 1964
  • Playlist of songs available online on Spotify. Note that a small number of assigned songs (approximately six) are not available on Spotify and will thus need to be acquired through another means such as iTunes.

Additional Resources

  • Access to Spotify (see Additional Information below)

Course Schedule

Week

SLOs

Reading and Listening Assignments

Assignment(s)

1

1-3, 5

Topic: Introduction; The Beatles' Early Days

  • Readings: Chapters 1-3
  • Listening:
    • “Rock Island Line” by Lonnie Donnegan
    • “Ain’t She Sweet” by the Beatles with Tony Sheridan
    • “Rock and Roll Music” by Chuck Berry
    • “You’ve Really Got A Hold On Me” by the Miracles
  • Make sure iTunes selections have been downloaded
  • Read assigned chapters
  • Review lecture material
  • Study listening materal
  • Participate in Discussion Board
  • Complete Quiz

2

1-4

Topic: The Beatles' First Recordings

  • Readings: Chapter 4 and online articles as cited in lecture
  • Listening:
    • Please Please Me (album)
    • “Love Me Do” (from Past Masters)
  • Read assigned chapter and articles
  • Review lecture material
  • Study listening materal
  • Participate in Discussion Board
  • Complete ungraded Comparative Essay (optional)

3

1-4

Topic: The Sound Develops

  • Readings: Chapter 5 and online articles as cited in lecture
  • Listening:
    • “I Wanna Be Your Man” by the Rolling Stones
    • “From Me To You”
    • “Thank You Girl”
    • “She Loves You”
    • “I'll Get You”
    • “I Want To Hold Your Hand,”
    • “This Boy” (from Past Masters)
  • Read assigned chapter and articles
  • Review lecture material
  • Study listening materal
  • Participate in Discussion Board
  • Complete Comparative Essay 1

4

1-5

Topic: Consolidating Their Identity

  • Reading: Chapter 6 and online articles as cited in lecture
  • Viewing: Hard Day’s Night (DVD)
  • Listening:
    • “Blowin’ in the Wind” by Bob Dylan
    • “Komm, Gib Mir Deine Hand (I Want To Hold Your Hand)
    • “Long Tall Sally”
    • “I Call Your Name”
    • “Slow Down”
    • “Matchbox”
    • “I Feel Fine”
    • “She's a Woman” (from Past Masters)
  • Read assigned chapter and articles
  • Review lecture material
  • Study listening materal
  • Participate in Discussion Board
  • Begin research for final project

5

1-4

Topic: Songwriting Takes Center Stage

  • Reading: Chapter 7 (through page 114) and online articles as cited in lecture
  • Listening:
    • Help! (album)
    • “Bad Boy,”
    • “Yes It Is”
    • “I’m Down” (from Past Masters)
  • Read assigned chapter and articles
  • Review lecture material
  • Study listening materal
  • Participate in Discussion Board
  • Submit Initial Proposal for Final Project

6

1-5

Topic: Full Maturity

  • Readings: Chapter 7 (from page 114) and online articles as cited in lecture
  • Listening :
    • “You’ve Really Got A Hold On Me” by the Miracles
    • Rubber Soul (album)
    • “Day Tripper”
    • “We Can Work It Out” (from Past Masters)
  • Read assigned chapter and articles
  • Review lecture material
  • Study listening materal
  • Participate in Discussion Board
  • Complete Comparative Essay 2

7

1-4

Topic: The Cutting Edge

  • Readings: Chapter 8 and online articles as cited in lecture
  • Listening:
    • Revolver (album)
    • “Paperback Writer”
    • “Rain” (from Past Masters)
  • Read assigned chapter and articles
  • Review lecture material
  • Study listening materal
  • Participate in Discussion Board
  • Work on Final Project

8

1-5

Topic: Sgt. Pepper

  • Reading: Chapter 9 and online articles as cited in lecture
  • Listening:
    • “Sloop John B” by the Beach Boys
    • Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (album)
    • Strawberry Fields Forever"
    • “Penny Lane” (from Magical Mystery Tour)
  • Read assigned chapter and articles
  • Review lecture material
  • Study listening materal
  • Participate in Discussion Board
  • Submit Refined Final Project Proposal

9

1-4

Topic: More Experimentation

  • Readings: Chapter 10 and online articles as cited in lecture
  • Listening:
    • Magical Mystery Tour (album)
    • “You Know My Name” (from Past Masters)
  • Read assigned chapter and articles
  • Review lecture material
  • Study listening materal
  • Participate in Discussion Board
  • Complete Comparative Essay 3

10

1-4

Topic: White Album and More Eclecticism

  • Reading: Chapter 11 (through page 231)and online articles as cited in lecture
  • Listening:
    • The Beatles (album) – disc 1
    • “Lady Madonna”
    • “The Inner Light”
    • “Across The Universe” (from Past Masters)
  • Read assigned chapter and articles
  • Review lecture material
  • Study listening materal
  • Participate in Discussion Board
  • Work on Final Project

11

1-4

Topic: White Album, Part 2

  • Readings: Chapter 11 (from page 231) and online articles as cited in lecture
  • Listening:
    • The Beatles (album) – disc 2
    •  “Hey Jude”
    • “Revolution” (from Past Masters)
  • Read assigned chapter and articles
  • Review lecture material
  • Study listening materal
  • Participate in Discussion Board
  • Submit Formal Final Project Proposal

12

1-4

Topic: The Beginning of the End

  • Readings: Chapter 12 and online articles as cited in lecture
  • Listening:
    • “Get Back”
    • “Don't Let Me Down”
    • “Let It Be” (from Past Masters)
  • Read assigned chapter and articles
  • Review lecture material
  • Study listening materal
  • Participate in Discussion Board
  • Complete Comparative Essay 4

13

1-4

Topic: The End

  • Readings: Chapter 13 and online articles as cited in lecture
  • Listening:
    • Abbey Road (album)
    • “The Ballad Of John And Yoko”
    • “Old Brown Shoe” (from Past Masters)
  • Read assigned chapter and articles
  • Review lecture material
  • Study listening materal
  • Participate in Discussion Board
  • Work on Final Project

14

1-5

Topic: Solo Work of the Individual Beatles; The Beatles' Influence on Other Artists

  • Reading: Chapter 14 and online articles as cited in lecture
  • Listening:
    • “Maybe I’m Amazed” by Paul McCartney
    • “Uncle Albert / Admiral Halsey” by Paul and Linda McCartney
    • “Mother” by John Lennon
    • “Whatever Gets You Thru the Night” by John Lennon
    • “What Is Life” by George Harrison
    • “It Don’t Come Easy” by Ringo Starr
    • “To Love Somebody” by the Bee Gees
    •  “Yesterday” by Count Basie
    • “Come Together” by Ike and Tina Turner
  • Read assigned chapter and articles
  • Review lecture material
  • Study listening materal
  • Participate in Discussion Board
  • Submit Final Project

15

1-5

Topic: Discussion of Final Projects (read, comment, Q&A)

  • Reading: Read a classmate's Final Project (randomly selected and provided to you)
  • Review Peer Final Project
  • Participate in Discussion Board
  • Complete course evaluation

Additional Information

The listening examples you will be expected to study for class assignments can be found in a playlist on Spotify (www.spotify.com). Spotify "Premium" (which costs approximately $10/month) 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 either:

https://open.spotify.com/user/noahbaerman/playlist/3pShEcmS9FPlFh0k4XXMZ4 OR https://open.spotify.com/user/noahbaerman

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.