MMC 1702 – Rock N Roll and American Society


High School Credit: 0.5

Course Instructor: Dave Carlson
David E. Carlson
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About The Course

This communication course explores the history of rock (and pop) music—its significant performers, producers, recordings, performances, and cultural identity, with the focus on the decades of the 1950s and 1960s.

It’s NOT a music course, per se, but we will be listening to a lot of music as we consider the effects of recorded sound on popular culture. Thus, this is a quintessential “communication and culture” course. We will study the origin and growth of the recording industry and music business, consider the impact new technology had (and continues to have) on the development of popular music and examine the mutual influences of rock ‘n’ roll music and other mass media (film, television, journalism, advertising, etc.).

We will attempt to integrate into this story the general social and intellectual history of the United States. Our emphasis is on rock ‘n’ roll and its impact from around 1954 to 1970, which happens to closely parallel the Civil Rights movement.

We will examine some of the different musical influences that came together to create rock ‘n’ roll, beginning as far back as the turn of the century, then building through the first half of the last century. Following a loose chronology, we will trace the evolution of specific musical styles and investigate issues related to culture, performance, technology, and reception. Reading assignments will introduce the distinct musical styles, performers, and works that comprise each genre and time period.

Course Goals

By the end of this course, students will:

Be able to broadly describe the history and development of rock ‘n’ roll music, its technological, regional and cultural influences, and synthesize how all that has influenced the cultural history of the United States. Students also will be able to recognize and compare different styles of music such as blues, bluegrass, country, gospel, jazz and various genres of rock ‘n’ roll.

Additional goals are to improve critical thinking skills, ability to discern important information and note-taking skills, all of which are useful in a broad range of disciplines.

Satisfied High School Graduation Requirement Subject: Elective