Academic Catalog


Foothill College Course Outline of Record

Foothill College Course Outline of Record
Heading Value
Units: 4
Hours: 4 lecture, 1 laboratory per week (60 total per quarter)
Advisory: Not open to students with credit in MUS 85 or 85A.
Degree & Credit Status: Degree-Applicable Credit Course
Foothill GE: Non-GE
Transferable: CSU/UC
Grade Type: Letter Grade (Request for Pass/No Pass)
Repeatability: Not Repeatable

Student Learning Outcomes

  • 70% of students will be able to correctly identify aural examples contained in the class modules at the final exam.
  • 70% of students will be able to correctly name the eras of pre-1970 jazz by date at the final exam.


Introductory study of the history and development of popular music from the inception of recording through the first televised performances of the Beatles in the U.S. Development of media delivery, including recording, radio, television, and how those delivery systems changed both the content of music and its use by the public. The influence of media on the development of styles such as jazz, swing, country, rockabilly and rock and roll, including societal changes brought about by media delivery of music and how it became associated with graphic imagery such as television and cinema.

Course Objectives

The student will be able to:
A. Describe and discuss the history of popular music since the introduction of recording.
C. Analyze media delivery systems and how they affect musical content and aesthetics.
D. Identify popular musical styles from each decade of the 20th century.
E. Compare and contrast media delivery systems and their impact on music styles and content.
F. Write comprehensive analyses of changes in musical styles and delivery since the introduction of recording.

Course Content

A. Context
1. History of recorded music delivery systems
a. Performance vs. recording and broadcast
b. Examples of how music has changed due to delivery medium
2. Vocabulary of modern (20th century) music
a. Technical characteristics (including pitch, rhythm, melody, dynamics, timbre, texture, form, harmony)
b. Changes in characteristics due to delivery medium
B. System development
1. Recording and its development 1878-1970
2. Radio system development/AM to FM
C. Engineering and its impact on musical content
1. Early engineering/live recording
2. Multitrack recording and the rise of the producer
3. Production as part of content
D. Technical Innovations and their impact
1. Dynamic microphones
2. Condenser microphones
3. The PA system
4. The LP
E. Major innovators and performers
1. Thomas Edison and recording
2. Bing Crosby and dynamic microphones
3. Frank Sinatra and condenser microphones
4. Phil Spector and modern production
5. Brian Wilson and multitrack engineering
6. George Martin and sound manipulation

Lab Content

Lab content includes directed listening and viewing from the following areas:
A. Early media (1890-1920)
B. Media since sound recording on a mass scale
C. Movies (cinema) with sound
D. Media since television
E. Music and media since the Beatles' first appearance on television in 1964

Special Facilities and/or Equipment

A. When taught on campus: access to a CD and DVD player; sound system, screen, overhead projection system.
B. When taught via Foothill Global Access: on-going access to computer with email software and capabilities; email address; JavaScript enabled internet browsing software.

Method(s) of Evaluation

A. Weekly worksheets for guided reading and listening.
B. Listening assignments via online delivery.
C. Weekly quizzes.
D. Written concert reports.
E. Midterm and final exams.

Method(s) of Instruction

A. Lecture in the form of 10 online modules.
B. Discussion both in person, and in online discussion forums.
C. Listening assignments of representative works from 1920-1970.

Representative Text(s) and Other Materials

Online text materials provided by the instructor.

Straubhaar, Joseph, Robert LaRose, and Lucinda Davenport. Media Now: Understanding Media, Culture and Technology. 10th ed. Boston: Cengage Learning, 2017.


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

A. Write a review of a concert DVD taking into consideration the era in which the event took place, and the state of media interaction at the time.

B. Read an article from a music trade magazine, and write a review of the article focusing on the media "spin" it contains.

C. View a film that contains a substantial amount of music, and write a paper discussing the impact of the music on the overall cinematic content.



Commercial Music, Music