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Academic Year: Spring/Summer 2014

Term: 1

Day/Evening: D

Instructor: Prof. Simon Wood


Office: Togo Salmon Hall 416

Phone: 905-525-9140 x 23668

Office Hours: Monday and Wednesday 5:00 to 6:00

Course Objectives:

Course Objective: 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. 3rd edition

Method of Assessment:

Term Test I (Wednesday, May 21st, 2014 at 6:00 PM):


Term Test II (Monday June 2nd 6:00 PM):


Final Examination (Wednesday June 18th 7:00PM):




Policy on Missed Work, Extensions, and Late Penalties:

McMaster Student Absence Form (MSAF)

This is a self-reporting tool for undergraduate students to report absences DUE TO MINOR MEDICAL SITUATIONS that last up to 5 days and provides the ability to request accommodation for any missed academic work. Please note, this tool cannot be used during any final examination period. You may submit a maximum of 1 Academic Work Missed request per term. It is YOUR responsibility to follow up with your Instructor immediately (NORMALLY WITHIN TWO WORKING DAYS) regarding the nature of the accommodation. If you are absent for reasons other than medical reasons, for more than 5 days, or exceed 1 request per term, you MUST visit your Associate Dean's Office/Faculty Office). You may be required to provide supporting documentation. This form should be filled out immediately when you are about to return to class after your absence.

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:

Week 1:

Introduction: Terms and Definitions / Origins of the Music Industry

            Tin Pan Alley, Sheet Music and Records, Radio

Readings: Introduction


Week 2: The growth of Blues and Country and Western

            Post-War changes, Black-Appeal Radio, Cover Versions

Readings: Chapter 1, Chapter 2 to page 77.


Week 3: Rockabilly, and the Golden Age of Rock’n’Roll. (1954-1959)

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

Readings: Chapter 2, 77 – 103.


Week 4: The “In-between” Years.  (1959-1963)

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

            Les Paul, The Ronettes, The Beach Boys.

            Readings: Chapter 3


Week 5: The ‘60s, Part 1: The British Invasion

            America after Kennedy.

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

            Readings: Chapter 4


Week 6: 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


Week 7: The ‘60s, Part 3: The Road to Woodstock

Folk revival; Counterculture; Acid Rock/Psychedelic Blues; Woodstock/Altamont

Bob Dylan, The Grateful Dead, Jimi Hendrix

            Readings: Chapter 5, Chapter 7.


Week 8: Art Rock, and Rock to Metal.

The rise of the Stadium Concert; Redefining masculinity, Guitar Culture, classical influences.

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

            Readings: Chapter 8


Week 9: 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.


Week 10: 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.


Week 11: Pop goes the Eighties.

MTV and the Video; Hard Rock goes commercial; Censorship

Michael Jackson, Madonna 

            Readings: Chapter 11.


Week 12: Recent Developments / The Digital Revolution

            The Impact of Digital Technology / The Internet, Napster to iTunes

            Readings: Chapter 13