About this Course This course, part 1 of a 2-course sequence, examines the history of rock, primarily as it unfolded in the United States, from the days before rock (pre-1955) to the end of the 1960s. This course covers the music of Elvis Presley, Chuck Berry, Phil Spector, Bob Dylan, the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix, Cream, and many more artists, with an emphasis both on cultural context and on the music itself. We will also explore how developments in the music business and in technology helped shape the ways in which styles developed. Rock emerged in the mid 1950s as a blending of mainstream pop, rhythm and blues, and country and western--styles that previously had remained relatively separate. This new style became the music of the emerging youth culture and was often associated with teen rebellion. We will follow the story of how this rowdy first wave of rock and roll (1955-59) was tamed in the early 60s but came roaring back with the Beatles and the Rolling Stones and then went psychedelic by the end of the decade.
General Overview This page is meant to provide a general overview of the course, with suggestions for how to use the videos and other materials. You should also consult the Syllabus and Course Schedule for more detailed information. Video Lectures You should view each video in the order listed, stopping to take notes. You may also slow the video down to aid in comprehension or use the closed captioning. Each video concludes with an in-line quiz. I have used these quizzes as a kind of summary of each video, so even if you make a mistake in a particular quiz, the mistakes can help you spot the points you may have missed in that video. These in-line quizzes do not count as part of your score for the course; they are meant only to improve your comprehension of the material included in the videos. Listening I discuss a lot of music in the course and we can't post any of it, due to copyright laws and licensing expenses. Fortunately, you'll be able to find most of this music on the web without too much trouble. When I mention a song, the title comes up on the screen along with the date of the recording. Please be careful to listen to the right version of each song; sometimes artists recorded the same song later and such a later version could cause confusion. The dates help keep that straight. Please make it a point to listen to all the music discussed, not just the music you like. I'll bet if you listen to everything, you'll discover music you didn't know about and also end up liking music you thought you wouldn't. Be brave--give music that is new to you a fresh listen!! Reading (optional) A textbook is not required for this course, and this is keeping with Coursera's goal to make all courses available to all with no economic obstacles. The entire course (both parts 1 and 2) are, however, based on my textbook, What's That Sound? An Introduction to Rock and Its History, 3rd ed. You may choose to use this book to enhance the experience of the course. The book deals with the material discussed in the lectures in greater depth and provides discussion of several songs per chapter. The listening guides in the book provide a chance to listen to the music in a way we cannot in the videos (see Video Listening Guides below). My publisher, W.W. Norton, offers an online streaming version of the book at a discount price. This is the least expensive option, though some may want to purchase the paper one. Here's the link to the Norton site and the e-book version: http://books.wwnorton.com/books/detail.aspx?Id=24604 Video Listening Guides (optional) I have posted several videos dedicated to a detailed discussion of many of the songs that I mention in the course. Strictly speaking, these videos are keyed to listening guides in my book, but you can still use them if you do not have the book. These videos are optional and are included simply to enhance your learning experience: no quiz or exam questions will be based on these videos. Here's the link to a YouTube playlist containing these videos: http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLeBbhpV63deUmTmUkYCGxhUjuXRjEYVdT Discussion Forum The course discussion forums are organized in several sections. For the discussion of the course material, we will focus on the general forum and the weekly ones. The general forum is the place for you to discuss the broader issues that come up in the course; the weekly forums are devoted to that week's video and music. I will start thread on various discussion topics as we go, but other ones are also possible. There need to be a few ground rules about the discussion forums. First and foremost, we must treat one another's views with respect. No flaming, please! Secondly, I want you to check your "fan mentality" at the door for these discussions. We all love some of the music we'll be discussing; and most likely there's also some we don't like nearly as much. That's natural and positive. But as students of rock history, we need to be as objective as we can be (realizing that total objective is probably impossible). Try to cast your comments in terms of a reasoned statement or argument. It's not very useful to say "this band is awesome, the best ever!" or "these guys suck." There are plenty of other forums for that kind of discussion. Here I want to keep it as scholarly as we can. I will pop in and contribute from time to time, but these forums are designed primarily for students to discuss topics with one another. Quizzes and Final Exam There will be three quizzes throughout the course. The final exam will incorporate a for the final module along with questions that draw from all previous modules. Bear in mind that the quiz questions are mostly more demanding than those at the end of each video. I don't want you to be surprised or angered by the fact that all of a sudden it seems like things got a lot harder, so please be prepared for this. You will be able to retake each quiz, so if the level of difficulty catches you by surprise, you can re-take the quiz. Announcements and emails Watch the Announcements page for additional information as the course unfolds. I will also send out emails as the situation warrants.
Modules and Themes: View the video lectures listed for each module. Students have the option of using the textbook or not; the video lectures are designed to be self-contained. The textbook provides increased depth, context, and background, as well as dozens of listening guides. [Additional assignments for those using the book are given in brackets below.] Consult the Course Schedule for information regarding lectures, quizzes, and the final exam. "The World Before Rock and Roll (1900-1955)" The Role of Tin Pan Alley in mainstream pop, the formation of a national audience through radio and the rise of television, the pre-rock pop of Frank Sinatra, Patti Page, and Les Paul and Mary Ford; rhythm and blues in the years before rock and roll; country and western and the rise of Nashville. [Read introduction and Chapter 1, along with the listening guides for each.] "The Birth and First Flourishing of Rock and Roll (1955-59)" Chart crossover and cover versions, the first hits of Bill Haley, Chuck Berry, Fats Domino, and Little Richard, the rise of Elvis Presley, the music of Jerry Lee Lewis and Buddy Holly, the rise of American Bandstand, the payola scandal and the "death of rock and roll." [Read Chapter 2 and work through the listening guides in that chapter.] **Quiz for Modules 1 & 2** "The Demise of Rock and the Promise of Soul (1959-63)" Was this era the dark ages for rock music or was it a golden era cut short by the British invasion? The music of teen idols, the folk revival, early surf music, sweet soul, rockabilly pop, and girl groups. The Brill Building songwriters and the rise of the producer. Playlets and splatter platters. [Read Chapter 3 and work through the listening guides for that chapter.] "The Beatles and the British Invasion (1964-66)" The Beatles transform the UK music scene and then invade America. Other Beatles-type British bands. The London blues scene and the Rolling Stones. Other Stones-type bands. The Who and the Kinks. [Read Chapter 4 and work through the listening guides for that chapter.] **Quiz for Modules 3 & 4** "American Responses (1965-67)" Dylan, the Byrds and folk rock. Garage bands in the northwest. Sonny and Cher and the legacy of Phil Spector. TV rock, Paul Revere and the Raiders, and the Monkees. Music in New York and Los Angeles. [Read Chapter 5 and work through the listening guides for that chapter.] "Motown Pop and Southern Soul (1960-69)" Berry Gordy and the rise and first flourishing of Motown. Atlantic, Stax, and southern soul (Memphis, Muscle Shoals, New York). Parallels between Motown and Stax. James Brown and the roots of funk. [Read Chapter 6 and work through the listening guides for that chapter.] **Quiz for Modules 5 and 6** "Psychedelia (1966-69)" How can music be psychedelic? Underground psychedelic scenes in San Francisco and London. Psychedelia in LA. The Summer of Love and the rise of hippie culture. The birth of FM rock and rock magazines. Woodstock and Altamont. [Read Chapter 7 and work through the listening guides for that chapter.] **Final exam**
Music Fundamentals (3 videos) These three videos were originally produced several years ago to accompany the first edition of my college textbook, What's That Sound? An Introduction to Rock and Its History (W.W. Norton). They cover elements of music theory from a rock perspective and are meant for students with no previous musical training. Here's the link to playlist on my YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLeBbhpV63deV6JSk_bFLmqM8k6lbKIGDk
Listening Guides (19 videos) The link below leads to a YouTube playlist of 19 Listening Guide videos. Each of these video guides corresponds to a Listening Guide in my textbook, What's That Sound? These Listening Guides are not required for the course, though I hope they will enrich your study. No previous knowledge of music theory is required to understand the content of these videos. https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLeBbhpV63deUmTmUkYCGxhUjuXRjEYVdT
The Birthplace of Rock and Roll - Sun Studio in Memphis, TN - Randomland, 6:27
Elvis: The Mini Series (Complete Movie), 2:43:40
13:00-18:53, Sun Studio calls