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MUSIC 2II3 Popular Music Post WW2

Academic Year: Spring/Summer 2017

Term: Summer

Day/Evening: E

Instructor: Prof. Simon Wood


Office: Togo Salmon Hall 416

Phone: 905-525-9140 x 23668

Office Hours: 5:00 pm to 6:00 pm, Monday and Wednesday, TSH 434

Course Objectives:

Music 2II3 is an introduction to western popular music. The course will briefly introduce the main precursors to this music before looking in depth at the important figures and styles from 1945 to the 1990s (depending on time). Various genres will be covered in an effort to show how trends in popular music change, and are in turn changed by, the historical movements of technology, economics, and demographics.

Textbooks, Materials & Fees:

Covach, John. What’s That Sound: An Introduction to Rock and its History. 4rd edition.

Method of Assessment:

The tests will be in multiple-choice format with questions focusing on both lecture and reading material. In addition, the tests will also include several listening examples taken from the listening list, posted on the course’s Avenue To Learn site. Students will be played short audio excerpts and asked to identify several of the following: artist, title, date, style, important characteristics, historical significance, etc…

Test Dates:

Test 1 (25%): Wednesday July 5th at 6:00 pm

Test 2 (30%): Wednesday July 19th at 6:00 pm

Exam (45%): Wednesday August 2nd at 6:00 pm

Students will receive 25% of their final grade prior to Wednesday July 19th


Policy on Missed Work, Extensions, and Late Penalties:

Deferrals and Make-Up Tests will be written within one week of the original scheduled date, provided that the student submit acceptable, official documentation stating the reasons for their inability to write at the appointed time. IF YOU ARE GOING TO BE SICK AND MISS A TEST, PLEASE LET ME KNOW STRAIGHT AWAY.

Please Note the Following Policies and Statements:

Academic Dishonesty

You are expected to exhibit honesty and use ethical behaviour in all aspects of the learning process. Academic credentials you earn are rooted in principles of honesty and academic integrity.

Academic dishonesty is to knowingly act or fail to act in a way that results or could result in unearned academic credit or advantage. This behaviour can result in serious consequences, e.g. the grade of zero on an assignment, loss of credit with a notation on the transcript (notation reads: "Grade of F assigned for academic dishonesty"), and/or suspension or expulsion from the university.

It is your responsibility to understand what constitutes academic dishonesty. For information on the various types of academic dishonesty please refer to the Academic Integrity Policy, located at

The following illustrates only three forms of academic dishonesty:

  1. Plagiarism, e.g. the submission of work that is not one’s own or for which other credit has been obtained.
  2. Improper collaboration in group work.
  3. Copying or using unauthorized aids in tests and examinations.

Email correspondence policy

It is the policy of the Faculty of Humanities that all email communication sent from students to instructors (including TAs), and from students to staff, must originate from each student’s own McMaster University email account. This policy protects confidentiality and confirms the identity of the student.  Instructors will delete emails that do not originate from a McMaster email account.

Modification of course outlines

The University reserves the right to change dates and/or deadlines etc. for any or all courses in the case of an emergency situation or labour disruption or civil unrest/disobedience, etc. If a modification becomes necessary, reasonable notice and communication with the students will be given with an explanation and the opportunity to comment on changes. Any significant changes should be made in consultation with the Department Chair.

McMaster Student Absence Form (MSAF)

In the event of an absence for medical or other reasons, students should review and follow the Academic Regulation in the Undergraduate Calendar Requests for Relief for Missed Academic Term Work. Please note these regulations have changed beginning Fall 2015. You can find information at If you have any questions about the MSAF, please contact your Associate Dean's office.

Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities

Students who require academic accommodation must contact Student Accessibility Services (SAS) to make arrangements with a Program Coordinator. Academic accommodations must be arranged for each term of study. Student Accessibility Services can be contacted by phone 905-525-9140 ext. 28652 or e-mail For further information, consult McMaster University's Policy for Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities.

Academic Accommodation for Religious, Indigenous and Spiritual Observances

Students requiring academic accommodation based on religion and spiritual observances should follow the procedures set out in the Course Calendar or by their respective Faculty. In most cases, the student should contact his or her professor or academic advisor as soon as possible to arrange accommodations for classes, assignments, tests and examinations that might be affected by a religious holiday or spiritual observance.

Topics and Readings:

Topics and Readings:


Class 1: Introduction: Terms and Definitions / Origins of the Music Industry

Roots of Tin Pan Alley

Readings: Introduction


Class 2: Blues

West African musical influences, Origin and structure of Blues

Readings: Chapter 1.


Class 3: Post-War Changes

Black-Appeal Radio, Cover Versions

Readings: Chapter 2 to page 77.


Class 4: Rockabilly, and the Golden Age of Rock’n’Roll. (1954-1959)

Elvis, Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis.

Readings: Chapter 2, 77 – 103.


Class 5: The “In-between” Years. (1959-1963)

The Brill Building; Dance Crazes; Dick Clark; American Bandstand; Girl Groups; New Technology; Phil Spector; Surf Music.

Les Paul, The Ronettes, The Beach Boys.

Readings: Chapter 3


Class 6: The ‘60s, Part 1: The British Invasion

America after Kennedy.

The Beatles (part I), British Blues, The Rolling Stones,

Readings: Chapter 4


Class 7: The ‘60s, Part 2: Motown, Soul to Funk

Music as Industrial Product; Civil Rights; The Re-Africanization of music and culture.

The Supremes, Otis Redding, Aretha Franklin, James Brown

Readings: Chapter 6


Class 8: The ‘60s, Part 3: The Road to Woodstock

Dylan at Newport; Counterculture; Acid Rock/Psychedelic Blues; Woodstock/Altamont

Bob Dylan, The Grateful Dead, Jimi Hendrix

Readings: Chapter 5, Chapter 7.


Class 9: Art Rock, and Rock to Metal.

Characteristics; Founding Bands; The rise of the Stadium Concert;

Pink Floyd, Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath.

Readings: Chapter 8


Class 10: Voices from the Margin.

Punk to New Wave; the Rise and Fall (and Rise) of Disco

The Velvet Underground, The Sex Pistols, Chic.

Readings: Chapter 9. Chapter 10, 415 – 435.


Class 11: Hip Hop Culture.

Precursors; Early Figures; Political sounds; Crossover.

The Last Poets, Kool Herc, Sugar Hill Gang, Grand Master Flash, Public Enemy, Run DMC.

Readings: Chapter 12, 489 – 496.


Class 12: Pop goes the Eighties.

MTV and the Video; Hard Rock goes commercial; Censorship

Michael Jackson, Madonna

Readings: Chapter 11.




Other Course Information:

Attendance: Because this is a large class, formal attendance is not taken. However, the lectures are the most important aspect of the course and class attendance is considered manditory.

Web Page: This course will make use of an Avenue to Learn site. This site will provide general information for the course, study guides and grades for term tests. Important announcements such as the cancellation of class due to illness will also be posted there, so please try to check the site before each class, just in case.