Academic Catalog


Foothill College Course Outline of Record

Foothill College Course Outline of Record
Heading Value
Effective Term: Summer 2021
Units: 4
Hours: 4 lecture, 1 laboratory per week (60 total per quarter)
Degree & Credit Status: Degree-Applicable Credit Course
Foothill GE: Area I: Humanities
Transferable: CSU/UC
Grade Type: Letter Grade (Request for Pass/No Pass)
Repeatability: Not Repeatable

Student Learning Outcomes

  • Successful students will be able to classify rock and roll by identifying song structures and literary devices as they analyze lyric sheets and listen to music from the early 1900's to present day.
  • Through research, review, and reflection, successful students will be able to specify how rock, pop, and jazz have influenced new artists, and other styles of music, from early rural blues to urban hip-hop.


This is a research and listening based survey course that begins with the roots in blues and continues with jazz, popular songs, rock music, and contemporary styles. It is a social history of primarily rock and roll that examines music before and after World War II, from the migration of the blues in the United States, to the social changes of the civil rights era of the '60s, to current times. The course will compare the historical and cultural context of popular lyrics in reference to contemporary, traditional, and folk styles by studying prominent musicians, genres, and songs associated with current musical idioms and social media.

Course Objectives

The student will be able to:
A. Listen to various styles of blues, jazz, pop, and rock, and identify musical characteristics in terms of instrumentation, chord progressions, melody, harmony, rhythm, and the length of compositions, that can help pinpoint the decade when they were written
B. Think and listen like a music publisher as they analyze poetic devices, and contrast the subject matter of lyrics found in pre- and post-WWII blues tunes, with current popular songs
C. Identify major performers and instrumentalists within the styles in relation to race, ethnicity, class, and gender:
1. Blues, Elvis and rockabilly, Dick Clark and American Bandstand, folk and social protest music, British Invasion, Motown, acid rock, soul music, jazz, girl groups, punk, MTV, rave, rap, hip-hop, metal, and jam bands
D. Examine music in terms of historical and cultural context, studying the civil rights movement, among other topics, through song lyrics
E. Recognize form and structure in contemporary music, the dilemma between the sacred and the secular
F. Identify reciprocal influences between classical music, and rock or jazz, like "Concierto de Aranjuez" by J. Rodrigo, compared to "Sketches of Spain" by Miles Davis, or "Stairway to Heaven" by Led Zeppelin. Examine the influence of jazz improvisation on rock solos
G. Integrate the significant role that music plays in breaking down racial barriers through politics, cultural diversity, and the creative arts
H. Trace the rise of popularity of the American blues in Great Britain and Europe to culminate with the blues revival of the 1960s and the British Invasion
I. Analyze and research a musician of their choice, and write a children's book on that artist
J. Identify the unsung heroes like the Funk Brothers, the Wrecking Crew, DJs, and people who pushed the envelope that opened the doors for other artists to walk through

Course Content

A. Poetic devices in titles, verses, choruses and bridges, from Tin Pan Alley to hip-hop
B. Basic chord progressions that represent specific decades
C. Song forms, styles, and scales
D. Tracing musical influences politically, socially, and aesthetically, to show how song lyrics reflect history
E. Staying power of artists and collaborative efforts
F. Alternative music markets
G. Identifying the most important artists of the following styles: blues, rockabilly, American Bandstand, surf music, folk music, British Invasion, Motown, acid rock, soul music, jazz, reggae, girl groups, punk, MTV, rave, rap, hip-hop, nu-metal, musical theater, and classical music (Rodrigo/Davis, Rodrigo/Santana, Puccini/RENT)
H. Establishing a sense of place for rhythm, the roots of rock and roll, by examining slave quarters and plantation life along the Mississippi, across from Fort Sumter in Charleston, South Carolina, and next to the White House (at the Steven Decatur House that faces Lafayette Square), to understand the role of call and response in song form
I. The influence of technology on music and the future of online radio
J. Weekly "source readings" from The Pop, Rock, and Soul Reader textbook will include journalistic criticisms, interviews with musicians, and excerpts from autobiographies

Lab Content

The intent of the distance-learning lab is to integrate the history of pop music through politics, society, and technology. Through the lab, the students will travel to far away museums (like the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, or the Smithsonian), to discover and incorporate social media, view concerts, complete assignments, and experience the influence of technology on music history. Each lab has a separate module, and an assignment to complete under Assignments, Tests, and Surveys: true and false statements, multiple choice, or essay questions. Current lab modules include:
A. The blues migration in the United States
B. The evolution of recording: the role of Sam Phillips and Sun Records
C. Poetic devices in songwriting
D. Doo-wop
E. Woody Guthrie and Bob Dylan, lyrics move messages through social protest
F. The British Invasion, the Beatles, and the Stones
G. Identity and the music industry
H. And all that jazz!
I. Motown and the Funk Brothers
J. Radio, journalism, NPR, and the Rolling Stone magazine
K. Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Cleveland, Ohio
L. Internet, jam bands, and YouTube

Special Facilities and/or Equipment

A. Classroom must be equipped with the latest stereo and sound record/playback unit, DVD and CD player, and multimedia equipment, piano, and staff lined boards.
B. When taught via Foothill Global Access, ongoing access to a computer with email address, software and hardware, and internet access.

Method(s) of Evaluation

1. A choice between a song comparison essay, a lyric analysis essay, or an instrumental analysis essay
2. Weekly written responses to essays, historical narratives, interviews, and autobiographies that respond to important developments in music history, for example: Bob Dylan going electric, pro or con? Journalistic criticism that provides insight within the world of musicians, the music industry, and the audience
Research projects
1. Oral and lyric presentation on an artist of the student's choice
2. Creation of a children's book on the artist of their oral presentation, text based on research project, plus supporting materials, like discographies and illustrations
1. Three written tests (essays, matching, and multiple choice questions)
2. Listening: musical style, performers, and era identification
1. Written submissions based on weekly lab modules, research, and websites that support the lectures and chapters from the textbook
Class participation and discussions

Method(s) of Instruction

Cooperative learning exercises
Field work
Oral presentations
Electronic discussions/chat
Independent study

Representative Text(s) and Other Materials

Brackett, David. The Pop, Rock, and Soul Reader: Histories and Debates, 4th ed.. 2019.

Szatmary, David. Rockin' in Time: A Social History of Rock 'n Roll, 9th ed.. 2018.

When taught via Foothill Global Access: supplemental lectures, handouts, tests, and assignments delivered via email and/or internet; feedback on tests and assignments delivered via email and/or internet; class discussion may be delivered in chat rooms, listservs, and newsgroups.

Types and/or Examples of Required Reading, Writing, and Outside of Class Assignments

A. Weekly "source readings" from the Pop, Rock, and Soul Reader textbook to analyze and debate, both in written form and for class discussions. Included are journalistic criticisms, interviews with musicians and excerpts from autobiographies.
1. #7 The Empress of the Blues, page 42
2. #8 At the Crossroads, page 48
3. #17 "The House that Ruth Brown Built," page 82
4. #24 Elvis Presley, Sam Phillips, and Rockabilly, page 119
5. #28 Brill Building, the Girl Groups, and Phil Spector, page 138
6. #29 From Surf to Smile, page 147
7. #30 Urban Folk Revival, page 153
8. #31 Bringing it All Back Home, page 162
9. #38 The Beatles, "The British Invasion, & Cultural Responsibility," page 208
10. #4 Art School and the British Blues Revival, page 227
11. #34 No Town Like Motown, page 180
12. #43 If You're Going to San Francisco, page 238
13. #35 The Godfather of Soul and the Beginnings of Funk, page 187
14. #45 Jimi Hendrix and the Electronic Guitar, page 247
15. #57 Led Zeppelin Speaks, page 319
16. #60 Jazz Fusion, page 342
17. #63 Punk Crosses the Atlantic, page 368
18. #68 Madonna and the Performance of Identity, page 401
19. #72 Metal in the Late Eighties: Glam or Thrash, page 436
20. #78 Hip-Hop into the 1990s, page 471
B. Weekly reading from the textbook, Rockin' in Time: A Social History of Rock 'n Roll, Chapters 1-22
C. Weekly chapter reviews from assigned reading in textbook
D. Weekly reviews from documentary films that focus on artists whose songs have been a part social changes in history
E. Lyric analysis paper and presentation