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 characteristic aspects of the language, instruments, and people who make up its composition and performance. The student should develop critical listening and thinking skills as well as aural recognition of a variety of pop styles.

The course management for this class will be accomplished through our Blackboard site; all registered students are enrolled. 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. 3nd ed. Boston, MA: Schirmer/Cengage, 2009. 

                                    ISBN: 0-495-50530-7.

                                    • 3-CD companion set: Popular Music in America: The Beat

                                    Goes On. 3nd ed.

                                    ISBN: 0-495-56611-X.



Minimum Competencies:  The successful student of MUS 1376 will have a greater appreciation of music, be knowledgeable of the fundamentals of music and the instruments that perform music today. He/she will learn the different stylistic periods of music and representative composers with their works as well as develop an appreciation for the popular music of the past. The student will also know about common forms of music. An examination of historical, cultural, political, and social trends throughout history will be included in this study of music and man. Above all, the diligent student will become a discerning, perceptive listener and possess a solid context for listening to music recreationally.





Exam 1
Exam 2
Exam 3
Exam 4



Class Attendance Policy:  Since lectures, listening, and video presentations are an integral part of the course, students are expected to attend all classes. Due to the condensed aspect of the course material to be presented in the brief time frame, each absence will result in a lowered grade.


Class Preparation: The schedule that accompanies this syllabus lists the material and chapters covered each day of the May-mester. Adequate preparation for each class includes reading the appropriate chapter and listening to the corresponding songs on the CD. Thorough reading and understanding of each song and its listening guides is crucial; they help assimilate the knowledge and appreciation of the subject matter. The student is advised to keep current on the reading and listening.



The project will be a 6-page written paper on a subject related to American popular music. Subject matter (4 pages) will include background and/or biographical information on the artist(s), song, album, or topic (see list below). For those choosing a subject dealing with a musician (left-hand column below), the paper will also focus on one song with musical analysis from elements learned in the class. Analyze the song of your choice similar to the “to Listen For” boxes found in our text; for your use, a blank “to Listen For” form (in pdf) can be found in the ASSIGNMENTS tab. No songs in the text/CD are allowed—select another song not given in the text. For those subjects covering an aspect from the music industry (right-hand column below), provide a thorough explanation of that particular aspect and how it applies to popular music today. Coordinate with me on your subject and artist/song not later than the end of the 3rd day of class. Please use a 12-pitch font and double-space your work.

The written project will also include a title page (1 page) and bibliography (1 page). The bibliography will include at least three citations, not all from the Internet. The paper will be due at the beginning of class on the final day. Helpful information can be found in the ASSIGNMENTS tab on our Blackboard site.




Subject Topics                                                           


Vocalist  Music Publishing/Royalties
Bassist     Recording Industry
Drummer    Mechanical Licensing/Royalties
Keyboardist  Public Relations/Publicist
Horn Player Booking Agency
  Tour/Road Manager
  Band Manager




Recorded Lectures & Other Materials:

The course’s Blackboard site contains recorded lectures from every chapter in 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.

Aids to writing in both style and resources available can also be found on our Blackboard site. Look under the ASSIGNMENTS tab for these.



“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.







Day 1 Introduction/Syllabus    Chapter 1
  Elements and Identity of pop music  
  Project subjects offered  
Day 2 Emergence of Black music Chapter 3
Day 3 Exam 1 (chap. 1 & 3)  
  Popular Song in the Modern Era Chapter 4
  Project subjects chosen  
Day 4 The Swing Era Chapter 5
  Blues, Gospel, Country, and Folk Chapter 6
Day 5 Blues, Gospel, Country, and Folk (con't.)  
  Latin Music in the USA Chapter 7
Day 6  Exam 2 (chap. 4-7)  
On the Charts, 1945-54
Chapter 8
Day 7 Rock and Roll  Chapter 9
Day 8 Exam 3 (chap. 8-9)  
  Rock Revolution, Rock and Black Music, 1960s Chapter 10
Day 9 Reactions to Rock; Early Rock Styles Chapter 11
Day 10 Projects Turned in and Presented  
  Exam 4 (chap. 10-11)