MUS 1376  •  American Popular Music



The Course: To gain a thorough understanding of the origins and development of popular music. Along with the study of its history, this course will also cover rudimentary aspects of the language, instruments, and artists who comprise its universal appeal. The student should develop critical listening and thinking skills as well as aural recognition of a variety of pop styles, forms, instruments, and artists.

The course management for this class will be accomplished through our Blackboard site; all registered students are enrolled. You must have a reliable computer and internet connection. You also need to know how to use email as well as transfer word/document files. Since this is a music course, make certain your computer can play MP3 files and you have the knowledge and technology to download music files.



Required Text:           

                        • Campbell, Michael. Popular Music in America: The Beat Goes On. 4th ed.

                        Boston, MA: Schirmer/Cengage, 2013.  ISBN: 978-0-8400-2976-8.

            • Access Card for music downloads: ISBN: 978-1-285-05737-8



• Gaining Factual Knowledge
Terms, Forms, Artists/Composers/Lyricists/Groups, Dates, Record companies, Publishing industry, etc.
• Learning Fundamental Principles, Generalizations, or Theories
12-bar blues, 32-bar AABA, Style periods,: R & B, Rock, Swing, Rockabilly, Latin, Rap, Country, etc.
• Gaining a Broader Understanding of Intellectual/Cultural Activity (in musi)
The student is able to listen to and appreciate pop music in a knowledgeable, discerning manner


Minimum Competencies:  The successful student of MUS 1376 will have a greater appreciation of popular music through increased knowledge of the fundamentals of music and the instruments that perform music today. He/she will gain awareness of the different stylistic periods of music and the works of representative composers. The student should develop an appreciation for the popular music of the past as well as learn about and identify common forms of popular music. He/she will learn about historical, cultural, political, and social trends as they relate to the study of this music. Above all, the diligent student will become a discerning, perceptive listener and develop a solid context for listening to music recreationally.

Music Listening Requirement: The Music Download Card (see above under Required Text) is a required component of the course. Whether you purchase it bundled with a text or singly by itself, you must have all the songs contained on this card. Listening questions on all exams/quizzes wiill come form this resource. The student is also required to obtain all the songs in Unit 19 sas well: use you favoite source for getting the songs in this unit.





  Exam 1
  Exam 2
  Exam 3
  Exam 4
  Exam 5
  Exam 6
  Concert Reviews
  Song Analysis



Proposed Schedule: Included is a proposed schedule which has proven successful in completing this course (see page 3 of this syllabus). It reflects the standard 15 weeks of academic classes. Students are required to read and listen to the material from each chapter. Deadlines for the Exams, Concert Reviews, and the Project are all given in this schedule.

Keep on top of it!



Concert Attendance Review:  Students are required to attend two live performances. For each one, submit a one-page, typed review of a performance, with its printed program, shortly following the performance. The concert review is worth a maximum of 10% of the semester grade. Submit the review within one week of the performance. One Review will be due in the middle of the term and the other toward the end of the semester. Extra credit may be given for attending more than one performance. Email the completed review (cover sheet and one-page essay) in MS Word format to and title the subject line of your email document:

(your name): Concert Review #1. Blank forms (that you can print) and helpful information/sample reviews can be found in the ASSIGNMENTS tab on our Blackboard site.



Song Analysis: Just as listening helps and analysis is found on songs in our text, the student will also analyze a song of your choice similar to the "Listening Cue" boxes found in our text. You will find a list of albums from which to choose your song; see the ASSIGNMENTS tab for this list: SongAnalysis-Album List.

Fill out a Style Profile form to accomplish this. For your use, a blank SongAnalysis-Style Profileform will be found in the COURSE  DOCUMENTS tab. No songs in the text/CD are allowed—select another song not given in the text. This will be due at the end of the 14th week of class. Coordinate with me on your artist/group and song not later than the 5th week. Email the completed song analysis in MS Word format to and title the subject line of your email document: (your name): Song Analysis. Sample Song Analyses can be found in the ASSIGNMENTS tab; use the sample song analyses on which to model your writing assignment.


Exams: Follow the schedule given at the end of this syllabus for a general time-line of when each chapter is expected to be mastered. Exams are given regulalry; notification of exact times will be given on our Blackboard site. Exams will normally be offered on an adjoining Sunday-Monday. Also required will be completion of short quizzes. Note: Most exams are given in the Respondus Lockdown Browser; this must be installed on the computer on which you take your exams. You must have a reliable computer and internet connection. There is a time limit on exams—watch this closely. Be sure to submit the exam in plenty of time that I receive it before the time expires; make certain to allow for connection time, transmittal time, etc., so that it arrives before the deadline. Points are deducted when I receive it past the deadline—regardless of when it was sent. There will be audio questions from our listening examples on the exams; your computer must have the ability to play MP3 files. Refer often to our Blackboard Announcements page for information on when these exams/quizzes will be offered.



Recorded Lectures & Other Materials:

The course’s Blackboard site contains recorded lectures from every chapter in our text (based on the 2nd edition of our text). These can be listened to on the site itself or downloaded to your MP3 player. They will supplement your exposure to the material from each chapter and are meant to be used in conjunction with reading the text and listening to the accompanying CD-set. Further recorded materials are also found on the site and offer helpful explanations/demonstrations on how to identify certain elements of popular music. These will be found in the LECTURES tab on our Blackboard site.


Assessment: As in all courses at ASU, this course will be assessed (note: this is not part of your grade, but rather another method to gauge progress in your learning process). You will be assessed on your second concert review and measured in two areas: 1) ability to identify and describe specific techniques of the artist’(s) performance; 2) level of written critique of the live performance.

Student Absence for Observance of Religious Holy Day
“Religious holy day” means a holy day observed by a religion whose places of worship are exempt from property taxation under Texas Tax Code §11.20.
A student who intends to observe a religious holy day should make that intention known in writing to the instructor prior to the absence. A student who is absent from classes for the observance of a religious holy day shall be allowed to take an examination or complete an assignment scheduled for that day within a reasonable time after the absence.   
A student who is excused under section 2 may not be penalized for the absence; however, the instructor may respond appropriately if the student fails to complete the assignment satisfactorily.


“Angelo State University expects its students to maintain complete honesty and integrity in their academic pursuits. Students are responsible for understanding the Academic Honor Code, which is contained in both print and web versions of the Student Handbook.”

Cheating means getting unauthorized help on an assignment, quiz, or examination.

Plagiarism means submitting work as your own that is someone else’s.

Be certain to maintain complete honesty and integrity in all your actions and words.



Semester Schedule


1 Elements and Identity of Popular Music 1
Popular Music in the 19th Century  2
2 Roots of Musical Theater, Revue, Vaudeville 2
Quiz #1 (Units 1-2)
The Emergence of African American Music  3
EXAM 1 (Units 1-3)  
4 Popular Song in the Modern Era      4
The Swing Era 5
Quiz #2 (Unit 4)
Blues, Gospel, Country, and Folk 1925-50 6
6 Latin Music in the USA 7
EXAM 2 (Units 4-5)
Song Choice for Song Analysis due
7 On the Charts 1945-54 8
R0ck n Roll's Early Days 9
  Quiz #3 (Unit 7)  
8 Early Rock n Roll (con't.) 9
EXAM 3 (Units 6-9)
1st Concert Review due
9 The Rock Revolution 10
10 Reactions to Rock 11
Exam 4 (Units 10-12)
11 Rock and R & B (1970s) 12
  Funk, Reggae, Disco, Punk (Late 1970s) 13
Quiz #4 (Unit 14) 
12 Funk, Reggae, Disco, Punk (con't.) 13
Electronica and Rap 14
  EXAM 5 (Units 13-16)  
13  Beyond Rock (1980s) 15
14  Alternatives, Heavy Metal, Grunge 16
15  Pop Music at Turn of a New Century 17
2nd Concert Review due
Song Analysis Due
16  6th EXAM (Units 17-20)