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Academic Year: Fall/Winter 2014/2015

Term: 1

Day/Evening: D

Instructor: Dr. Susan Fast


Office: Chester New Hall 308

Phone: 905-525-9140 x 24715

Office Hours: Tuesdays 10:30-11:30; Wednesdays 5:30-6:30 or by appointment

Course Objectives:

Music 2II3 is a chronological examination of Western popular music from the late 1940s through the 1980s.   The focus of the course is on how popular music has been an important means through which issues of race, class, gender and other kinds of social politics have been played out. This occurs through the ways in which the sounds themselves are constructed (including the use of new technologies), through lyrics, through rituals of live performance (including the use of the body in performance), fashion, discourses about popular music, etc.  The course will also examine the critical role of the mass media and the music industry in popular music.


Course goals: 1) to gain an understanding of the formal construction of popular musics (including audio recordings, video, live performances) in order to appreciate how formal choices create and/or enforce social issues 2) to become familiar with the majority of popular music styles from the 1950s onward, and to understand how one style developed or deviated from another 3) to contextualize popular musics within the cultural politics of the late 20th and early 21st centuries and 4) to contemplate your own choices in popular music consumption and what social forces may be shaping these.

Textbooks, Materials & Fees:

Course Listening List


Critical listening is a very important part of the course. The songs on the listening list are your primary resources for the course and you should listen to the music carefully in order to understand how it works (this will be discussed in class).  You should listen with your full attention and listen to songs several times in order to hear the various components we discuss in class. You do not need any prior musical training for this course, but learning something about the way music works, formally, and how this links to socio-cultural issues, is a primary goal of the course.


You can access the listening list via a music hosting website called Grooveshark, where a complete course playlist has been compiled under the user name “Music 2II3”.


Accessing and Using the Listening List on Grooveshark


1.  Go to:!/playlist/McMasterPopMusicPostWWII/100669244

2.  The entire course playlist should now be visible and accessible in chronological order. Individual songs can be queued to play by clicking on one or several of them (songs will play in the order in which they are clicked if more than one song is selected).


Required Text (please purchase at Titles Book Store):


John Covach, What’s That Sound:  An Introduction to Rock and Its History, third edition (New York: W.W. Norton, 2012)


You should do the reading and listening for each week prior to the class meetings.


Method of Assessment:



Term test 1             Saturday, October 18, 10:00-10:50 am                            25%

Term test                Saturday, November 22, 10:00-10:50 am                        25%    

Listening Lab         optional                                                                            0%

Final exam  (comprehensive, 2 hours), scheduled by Registrar                      50%


1.  Tests and Exam. Both the in-class tests and the final exam will ask specific and detailed questions about your readings, listening assignments and lectures; the two term tests will include recorded examples that you will have to identify and answer questions about. The format of the tests and the exam will be multiple choice. You should be familiar enough with the examples on the listening list that you can identify a piece by hearing a short excerpt, including the particular players, the date, song writers, and musical/cultural issues relating to it. 


MAKE UPS:  There will be one date only scheduled for make-up tests. You will only be able to make-up a test in case of illness or other extenuating circumstances. Permission to take the make up must be obtained from Dr. Fast prior to the time of the make up test: you cannot simply show up for the make up, or take it at a time other than the one scheduled. I do not re-weight tests, so if you miss a test and the make up, you will receive a zero for that test.


2.  Listening Lab. The listening labs are designed to help you better hear musical structures and details in songs that we study during the term (like a tutorial); they will also serve as review of other lecture materials and for test and exam prep.  You’ll be able to ask questions and have discussions in a smaller group setting than in lecture. They will be held weekly beginning September 17-December 3, and you can attend as many of these as you like. Location:  TSH B24 Time:  Wednesdays, 4:30-5:20.


Terms of enrollment


  1. Attendance and Participation at Lectures.  It takes considerable time and energy both to prepare lectures and to deliver them.  I ask, therefore, that you give me your full attention in lectures. In addition, it is particularly important given the size of the class that everyone observe rules of common courtesy, including refraining from talking, passing notes, opening pop cans, eating, rustling papers, etc. Recreational computer, smart phone or tablet use, even if silent, is also distracting to people sitting nearby.  Laptops are welcome in class for the purposes of note-taking only. NB. Please refrain from closing books, opening knapsacks or leaving before the lecture is finished.
  2. Listening and Readings.  You are expected to do the assigned reading and listening prior to each class.  I would urge you to take notes from the readings and bring these to class.  I do not lecture out of the textbook; lectures complement the readings, but are also different. 
  3. Audio-Visual Material. Material shown or listened to in class will comprise part of your tests and exam.  These materials are primary sources, as important as the readings we do. The video clips are easily accessible on Youtube.
  4. Plagiarism. Plagiarism is a serious offence with serious consequences. Do not plagiarize under any circumstances! Please refer to the “Statement of Academic Ethics” (below) and the “Senate Resolutions on Academic Dishonesty” for the university policy on plagiarism. These documents are distributed at registration and are also available in the Senate Office.
  5. Course Evaluations. Students will be asked to complete a course evaluation at the end of the term.
  6. Contacting TAs and Professor: Questions about course content and tests should be addressed to me or the TA’s during our office hours, not via email. If you are unable to attend these office hours, you may send a short e-mail to the TA or instructor to schedule an alternative meeting time. The instructor will try to respond to short email queries within 24 hours. Messages received over the weekend will generally be answered by Tuesday. The TAs may provide their own e-mail policy.  E-mail queries about information clearly explained on the course outline or on Avenue to Learn, or emails about course content (e.g. the explanation of terms or concepts) will not be answered. All e-mail correspondence for this course must have “2II3” or “2R03”  in the subject heading. Please ensure that your e-mail message is addressed to the TA or instructor by name (“Dear _____”) and that it includes your own name. 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 the 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.
  7. Class cancellation: In the event of class cancellations, students will be notified on AVENUE TO LEARN.  It is your responsibility to check this site regularly for any such announcements. 

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:

In the textbook, there are essays in each chapter by authors other than Covach called Backstage Pass.  These essays open a window on a particular aspect of popular music studies by experts on the subject.  You’ll write your response papers on these essays:


September 10              Gary Giddens, “The Invention of Bing Crosby” p. 52-53

September 17              Albin Zak, “Elvis Presley’s Visual Appeal,” p. 100-101

September 24              John Jackson,  “The Rise and Fall of American Bandstand,” p. 120-121

October 1                    Tim Riley, “The Beatles on Ed Sullivan,” p. 168-69

October 8                    Ben Fong-Torres, “Top 40:  More Hits, More Often,” 210-11

October 15                  Graeme Boone, “Live from….Woodstock” p. 288-29

October 22                  Guthrie Ramsey, “Hot Pants Make Sure of Yourself,” 246-47

October 29                  Susan Fast, “Led Zeppelin in Concert 1970-79,” p. 314-15

November 5                Rob Bowman, “Wattstax:  “Black Woodstock” and the Legendary Film it Inspired” p. 256-57

November 12              Elvis Costello on Saturday Night Live, p. 400-401

November 19              Andrew Flory, “Motown 25:  Celebration, Nostalgia, and Actuality” p. 422-23

November 19              “Rock Music and Technology” p. 550-551

November 26              Jeff Chang, “DJ Kool Herc:  The Man with the Master Plan” p. 466-67.


NB:  The schedule that follows is approximate; sometimes we don’t get to all the material listed for a week during that week, so there may be some weeks that we get a bit off schedule.  It’s for this reason that I’ve left our last class meeting, December 3, open for now.  We will meet and use that class time.


Sept 10:           The World Before Rock and Roll:  Tin Pan Alley, Country & Western, Blues, Gospel


Reading:          Covach: Introduction and Chapter 1


Listening:        Judy Garland, “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”  (Tin Pan Alley)

                        Frank Sinatra and Bono “I’ve Got You Under My Skin” (Tin Pan Alley)

Bill Monroe and His Bluegrass Boys, “I’m Going Back to Old Kentucky” (bluegrass)

                        Hank Williams, “Hey Good Lookin’” (country)

The Carter Family, “Will the Circle Be Unbroken” (country)

Jimmie Rodgers, “Train Whistle Blues” (country)

Robert Johnson, “Cross Road Blues” (country blues)

Bessie Smith, “Young Woman’s Blues” (classic blues)

Muddy Waters, “You Need Love” (urban/Chicago blues)

T-Bone Walker, “Stormy Monday Blues” (urban/Chicago blues)

Memphis Minnie, “When the Levee Breaks” (urban/Chicago blues)

Marion Williams, “Even Me” (gospel)

Ira Tucker and The Dixie Hummingbirds, “I’ll Never Forget” (gospel)


Sept. 17:          Rhythm and Blues, early Rock and Roll (1950’s)


Reading:          Covach: Chapter 2


Listening:        Chuck Berry, “Johnny B. Goode”

Little Richard, "Tutti Frutti"

Willie Mae “Big Mama” Thornton, “Hound Dog”

Big Joe Turner, “Shake, Rattle and Roll”

Ray Charles, “What’d I Say”

Ruth Brown, “5-10-15 Hours”

Bill Haley and the Comets, "Rock Around the Clock"

Wanda Jackson, “Let’s Have a Party”

Elvis Presley, “That’s Alright Mama;” “Hound Dog,” “Milkcow Boogie Blues”

Jerry Lee Lewis, "Great Balls of Fire"

Buddy Holly, "Peggy Sue"


Sept. 24           Doo-Wop, Girl Group Music, Surf, The Nashville Sound


Reading:          Covach: Chapter 3 (minus the section “Narrative Lyrics Run Amok”)


Listening:        Brenda Lee, “I’m Sorry”

            Leslie Gore, “It’s My Party”

            Frankie Avalon, “Venus”

            Chubby Checker, “The Twist”

The Chords, "Sh-Boom"

Dion and the Belmonts, “I Wonder Why”

The Chantels, “Maybe”

The Shangri-Las, “Leader of the Pack”         

The Ronettes, "Be My Baby"

Beach Boys, “Surfin’ U.S.A.”

            Patsy Cline, “I Fall to Pieces”

            Jim Reeves, “He’ll Have to Go”


Oct 1               Britain in the early 1960’s, The “British Invasion” of America


Reading:          Covach: Chapter 4


Listening:        Cliff Richard, “Summer Holiday”

                        Petula Clark, “Downtown”

                        Dusty Springfield, “Mockingbird”

                        Lulu, “To Sir With Love,”

                        Lonnie Donnegan, “Rock Island Line”

The Beatles, "I Wanna Hold Your Hand,”

The Rolling Stones,  “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction;” “Monkey Man”

The Who, “My Generation”

The Kinks, “You Really Got Me”

Gerry and the Pacemakers, “Don’t let the Sun Catch You Crying”

The Yardbirds, “I’m a Man,” “Heart Full of Soul”

John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers (featuring Eric Clapton), “Have You Heard”


October 8        Folk revival, Folk rock; Motown and Southern Soul in the earlier 60’s

                        Guest Lecture:  Craig Jennex


Reading:          Covach Chapter 5, pp. 192-202, “Folk Rock” section only

                        Covach Chapter 6 (excluding the section “James Brown:  On the Way to Funk”)


Listening:        Kingston Trio, “Tom Dooley”

Pete Seeger, “Where Have All The Flowers Gone”

Joan Baez, “On the Banks of the Ohio”

Phil Ochs, “I’m Not Marching Anymore”

Buffy Saint Marie, “Universal Soldier,” “My Country Tis of Thy People You’re Dying”

Bob Dylan, "A Hard Rain's a-Gonna Fall";  "Like a Rolling Stone" “Oxford Town”

The Byrds, “Mr. Tambourine Man”


The Temptations, “My Girl,” “The Way You Do the Things You Do,”

Smokey Robinson & the Miracles, “Tracks of My Tears” (Motown)

Diana Ross and the Supremes, "Where Did Our Love Go,"   “Baby Love” (Motown)

Martha and the Vandellas, “Dancing in the Street” (Motown)

Sam Cooke, “A Change Is Gonna Come” (Speciality)                                                                     

Booker T and the MGs, “Green Onions” (Stax)

Otis Redding, “Respect” (Stax)

Wilson Pickett, “In the Midnight Hour” (Stax)

Aretha Franklin, “Chain of Fools,” "Respect” “Since You’ve Been Gone (Sweet Sweet Baby) (Atlantic)


October 15:     Psychedelia


Reading:          Covach: Chapter 7


Listening:        Jefferson Airplane, "Somebody to Love" “White Rabbit”

Janis Joplin (with the Full-Tilt Boogie Band), “Ball and Chain”

The Grateful Dead, "The Eleven" (Live/Dead, 1969)

The Doors, "Break On Through (to the Other Side)"

Jimi Hendrix, “Purple Haze”

The Beatles, “A Day in the Life”

Pink Floyd, “Astronomy Dominé”

                        Cream, “Sunshine of Your Love”


October 22      Soul and Funk in the 1960s and 1970’s


Reading:          Covach: Chapter 6, “James Brown:  On the Way to Funk”; Chapter 9: “Black Pop in the 1970’s” and “James Brown, George Clinton and Parliament/Funkadelic”



Ike and Tina Turner Review, “A Fool in Love”

James Brown, “Please, Please, Please,” “Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag,” "Cold Sweat"

The Jackson 5, “I Want You Back,” “I’ll Be There”

Sly and the Family Stone,  "Thank You -- Falettinme Be Mice Elf" (Greatest hits, 1970); "Thank You For Talkin' To Me Africa" (There's a Riot Goin' On, 1971)

The Temptations, “Papa Was a Rolling Stone”

Parliament (George Clinton), “Give Up the Funk (Tear the Roof Off the Sucker)” (Mothership Connection, 1976)

Stevie Wonder, "Living For the City" (Songs in the Key of Life, 1976) (Motown)


October 29:     The 70’s & 80’s:  hard rock/metal; prog rock


Reading:          Covach: Chapter 8, “Blues-Based British Rock,” “Progressive Rock:  Big Ideas and High Ambition” Chapter 10, “Mainstream Rock, 1975-1980” only; Chapter 12, “Heavy! Duty! Heavy Metal in the 1980s” only


Listening:        Led Zeppelin, “Whole Lotta Love” (Led Zeppelin II, 1969); “Stairway to Heaven” (Untitled, 1971)

Deep Purple, “Highway Star”

Black Sabbath, “Electric Funeral”

Heart, “Crazy on You”

Santana, “Black Magic Woman,”

Guns 'n' Roses, "Welcome to the Jungle"

Metallica, “Disposable Heroes”

Allman Brothers Band, “Whipping Post”

Queen, "Bohemian Rhapsody"

Yes, "Roundabout"

Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention, "Brown Shoes Don't Make It"

Pink Floyd, Dark Side of the Moon (1973)







November 5:  The 70’s mainstream:  glam, singer-songwriters, outlaw country


Reading:          Covach: Chapter 8, “Glam Rock and Rock Theatre,” and “The Singer-Songwriters”


Listening:        Joni Mitchell, “Tin Angel”

James Taylor, “Fire and Rain”

Carole King, “You’ve Got a Friend”

Elton John, “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road”

Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, “Born to Run” (Born to Run, 1975)

Fleetwood Mac, “Go Your Own Way,” (Rumors)

David Bowie, “Ziggy Stardust” (The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars, 1972); “Time” (Aladin Sane, 1973); “Fame” (Young Americans, 1974)

            Johnny Cash, “Ring of Fire”

Willie Nelson, “Red Headed Stranger, “ from the concept album Red Headed Stranger (1973)


November 12:  Reactions to the mainstream:  disco, reggae, punk and new wave


Reading:          Covach: Chapter 9, “Reggae Comes Ashore,” “The Rise of Disco,” and “Disco and the Hippies; Chapter 10 “The Roots of Punk in the United States, 1967-1975,” “The Rise of Punk in the UK 1974-1977; “The Rise of New Wave, 1977-1980”


Listening:        The Village People, "Macho Man" (1978)

Sister Sledge, “We Are Family” (We Are Family, 1979)

Donna Summer, “Love to Love You Baby”

KC and the Sunshine Band, “Get Down Tonight” (1975)

Bee Gees, “Staying Alive” (Soundtrack to Saturday Night Fever, 1977)

The O’Jays, “Love Train (by Gamble & Huff, Philly Soul)

MFSB, “T.S.O.P (The Sound of Philadelphia)” (Philly Soul)

            Ramones, “Blitzkrieg Bop”

            Iggy Pop and the Stooges, “I Wanna Be Your Dog”

MC5, “Kick Out the Jams”

Sex Pistols, "Anarchy in the U.K.;" "God Save the Queen" (Never Mind the Bollocks Here's the Sex Pistols, 1977)

The Clash, “London Calling” (London Calling, 1979)

The Velvet Underground, "Heroin" (The Velvet Underground and Nico, produced by Andy Warhol, (1967)

Patti Smith, "Gloria" (Horses, 1975)

Talking Heads, “Life During Wartime,” (Fear of Music, 1979)

The Police, "So Lonely" (Outlandos d'Amour, 1978)

Bob Marley and the Wailers, "Get Up, Stand Up" (Burnin', 1973)


November 19:  The 1980s:  Michael, Madonna and Prince; U2; Charity Rock; electronic 

dance music


Reading:          Covach: Chapter 11 (except “Adapting to Newer Styles”); Chapter 13 “Beat Based Pop”


Listening:        Madonna, “Like a Prayer;” “Justify My Love;”  

Michael Jackson, “Thriller;” “Jam”

Prince,  “Kiss,” 

DJ IPX, eg of Chicago House

Laurent Garnier, eg of Detroit Techno

Channel X, “Rave the Rhythm,” U.K. Hardcore techno

U2, “Pride (In the Name of Love);” “Zoo Station”

USA For Africa, “We Are the World”



November 26:  Hip Hop

                        Guest Lecture:  Marquita Smith


Reading:          Covach: Chapter 12 “The Emergence of Rap,” and Chapter 13 “Beat-Based Pop,” Chapter 14 “Country and Beat-Based Styles” (read the section on “Beat Based Rockers” only)


Listening:        Sugar Hill Gang, “Rapper’s Delight” (1979)

Afrika Bambaataa and Soul Sonic Force, “Planet Rock” (1982)

Grandmaster Flash, Melle Mel, and the Furious Five, "The Message" (1982)

Salt ‘N Pepa, “Push It”

Queen Latifah, “Ladies First”

Public Enemy, “Fight the Power,” "Night of the Living Baseheads"

N.W.A., “Straight Outta Compton” (extended mix)

Further listening TBA


Other Course Information:

Avenue to Learn:


In this course we will be using ‘Avenue to Learn’ (the online learning management system at McMaster). Students should be aware that when they access the electronic components of this course, private information such as first and last names, user names for the McMaster e-mail accounts, and program affiliation may become apparent to all other students in the same course. The available information is dependent on the technology used. Continuation in this course will be deemed consent to this disclosure. If you have any questions or concerns about such disclosure please discuss this with the course instructor.


We will use ‘Avenue to Learn’ to distribute additional information about course assignments and expectations, including handouts and assignment guides, so you should make a point of accessing it frequently (at least twice per week) in order to keep up-to-date with our course. Any announcements about changes to assigned readings, office hours, or class cancellations will also be made through ‘Avenue to Learn.’ Students who are unfamiliar with the ‘Avenue to Learn’ system should familiarize themselves with the system as soon as possible; if you have any questions please seek immediate assistance by seeing your TA during office hours, or review the online tips and help available by visiting the McMaster ‘Avenue to Learn’ webpage.