Music 11C - Popular Music in America
Tu-Th 12:00-1:45 [ 61560
Music Center Recital Hall (101)
Office Hours in Music Center 148: Mon 11:30-1:00 PM; Tues 3:00-4:00 PM
A survey of American popular music in cultural context, from the beginnings of mass media to the late twentieth century and beyond. The course focuses in particular on narratives of race that inform our ways of valuing racial categories as they intersect with gender, sexuality, class, and evolving notions of cultural pluralism. Fields of inquiry will include the blues, minstrelsy, the social construction of "pure" Anglo-/Irish-American history through parlor song and "country" music, mixtures of Latin American and Afro-Caribbean cultures in the 1950s-70s, first "post-racial" musics of the post-war economic boom (when "race music" is refigured as "rhythm and blues"), musics of the civil rights eras, the Chicago roots of the 'British invasion,' the rise of funk and hip-hop as modes of community empowerment, the cultural meanings of "indy" and commercial pop in the late 20th century, and recent impacts of digital media and social networking on R&B and electronic dance music.
• To understand concepts and social forces important in the production of popular music in the United States from a critical historical perspective.
• To learn to hear and interpret basic elements of musical expression.
• To develop awareness of differences and commonalities among a variety of popular music practices, in the contexts of struggles for social justice and cultural belonging.
• To explore historical and contemporary relationships between musical communities, the music industry, and the media.
The course website is accessible through the new Canvas portal (not eCommons!): <https://cole2.uconline.edu/courses/355105>.
All course content (readings, listening, assignments) will be accessible through this site. To gain access you must:
1. Be an enrolled student in Music 11C.
2. Have a CruzID Gold password. (For more information, visit http://its.ucsc.edu/services/accounts/change_gold_password.php web browser compatibility: the latest version of Firefox or Chrome is recommended.)
There is no printed textbook for this course. All required reading (approx. 50-70 pages per week) is available online under "Files" in the left-margin menu, and linked in the calendar section of this Syllabus.
All required listening will be posted on the course website under the "Modules" on the menu to your left. Some tracks are password protected and require the following login and password given in class.
Note: The streaming audio WILL NOT WORK over UCSC's "cruznet" network; you must be connected via ethernet or some other wifi network. The audio does not work with the latest version of the Chrome browser, but will work with Firefox, Safari, iTunes, and Quicktime 7 or earlier.
The course meetings will include lecture, discussion, critical listening, and demonstrations of musical practices. Your presence in lecture includes opportunities to learn that can't be replaced by recorded sound and video materials—not only because we sometimes make 'live' music in the lecture hall, but because we listen in specific, and participatory ways. Since music listening and analysis requires concentration, please do not disrupt class by arriving late and/or leaving early.
Listening Responses [READ THIS!]
The course will be divided into five 2-week units —
• Weeks 1-2: Unit 1 - Diaspora, Folk Music, and the Blues: 1820-1920
• Weeks 3-4: Unit 2 - National and Racial Identity in the 'Jazz' Age: 1889 - 1954
• Weeks 5-6: Unit 3 - Rhythm and Blues, Rock and Roll: 1939-1969
• Weeks 7-8: Unit 4 - Cultural Revolution, from the British Invasion to Punk and Funk: 1963-1988
• Weeks 9-10: Unit 5 - Hip-hop, Consumer-producers, and the Remaking of Popular Culture: 1985-2015
Each of the five units will include a range of required listening, divided into categories based on the genres and cultures of American popular music. Students will choose three units in which to write a short (300-500-word) "Listening Response" essay. (Do one listening response for each of the three chosen units.) At least one of these "Listening Responses" must be submitted in Unit 1 or 2, and at least one must be written in Unit 4 or 5.
How to write the listening responses: Following a prompt ( in the discussion "word bubbles" within the "Modules" to your left) with specific questions, your essays will typically compare two (or more) songs in greater detail, and will include references to the content of the course readings along with other sources online where appropriate. Write your post offline, so that you have your own copy in case of a website error. Your response should exclusively represent your original writing on the listening, except where you've clearly cited course readings.
Your three listening responses will each be worth 16 points. To get full credit for the unit, after you submit your listening response, you will also need to promote deeper discussion by offering substantial thoughts and questions in response to teaching assistants' and peers' posts (2 additional points). Begin discussions by clicking "Reply" on one of your classmates' or TAs' posts. To ensure full credit, make sure your replies make substantive pointe, and/or ask substantive questions (no "yes/no" questions!). Try to invite serious conversation!
Exams and Quizzes
I. There will be a Midterm Exam Thursday, May 7 in class, and a Final Exam Monday, June 8, 7:30–10:30 p.m.
. Both exams will be held where the class meets, in the Music Center Recital Hall. These exams will be given only once--regrettably, we are unable to provide make-up exams, even in special circumstances.
The exams will consist of multiple-choice short-answer and listening questions. Critical information related to exam and essay questions will be discussed extensively in lectures; much of the exam content is unique to that environment. Lecture outlines will be made available online, but these are only meant to help you organize the thoughts you've represented in your own note-taking.
II. There will be at least one short one-question quiz in most class periods. This part of the course is designed to help you assess your own comprehension of the material, and to prepare you for the larger exams. These also help me to guide the conversation with a sense of how you’re doing. On any given day, whether or not your quiz answer is correct, your participation in the quiz will earn full credit. A small amount of extra credit will be given to students who consistently answer correctly.
Academic misconduct or dishonesty—including any activities meeting descriptions in the UCSC Student Policies and Regulations Handbook Section 102.01—will result in zero course credit for the work in question, and a report to your academic preceptor, which may lead to serious consequences, including suspension or expulsion, depending upon your current academic record. Serious, premeditated, or repeated instances of academic dishonesty may result in your removal from the course, or a course grade of F.
Accommodating individual learning differences in our classroom or in our coursework
If you qualify for classroom accommodations because of a disability, please get an Accommodation Authorization from the Disability Resource Center (DRC) and feel free to send it to me via email or bring it to me in person. For more information, contact the DRC at 459-2089 (voice), 459-4806 (TTY), or visit them at http://drc.ucsc.edu
Even if you don’t have a specific DRC qualification, please take the time to let me know if there is any aspect of our learning environment that could be improved to help you get the most out of the class.
Your TAs and I are committed to assigning grades based on what you do, not based on who you are. However, grading this many students is very hard — please do not ask your TAs to consider special circumstances to excuse lateness or poor performance. Your honorable participation will make it easier for us to be consistent and fair. Please assume the very best of intentions from your TAs — their decisions are not to be taken personally. If you believe that based on the work that you accomplished, a grade has been incorrectly calculated; or if you feel uncertain about what was expected of you, we DO want to hear from you, and we look forward to the conversation!
Calculating the Grade
In-class participation: 24% (via "quizzes" each day—full credit granted just for participation), and broader discussions.
3 short-essay listening responses, with discussion: 33%
Mid-Term Exam: 18%
Final Exam: 25%
I regret that we cannot offer any “make-up” quizzes, regardless of the reason for your absence from any meeting. With medical documentation showing a reason for absence on a particular day, I sometimes subtract one daily quiz from your maximum. That means that you won’t get credit for the missed quiz, but you won’t be penalized either, because your overall quiz score for the quarter will be compared to a lower maximum total, raising the “worth” of all your other quizzes.
If you are absent on a particular day and you want to make sure not to fall behind, you'll also need to ask a classmate to take notes for you. You won't be able to compensate for your absence via my online lecture outlines alone, because they are only outlines, and don't include detailed content, additional guided music listening, and other kinds of interaction that will allow students to digest musical terms. The content of lectures is essential for effective performance on exams and writing exercises. If, after an excused absence, you have further questions after consulting classmates' notes as well as possible, please don't hesitate to ask over email or visit me in office hours.