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History of Rock Music I – From the Early Blues to the 1960s

Appraise rock music through the perspectives of music history, music theory, music composition, and music genre.
Instructor:
Vasilis Kallis
302 students enrolled
English
You will be able to speak confidently about the important rock genres and sub-genres, from the arrival of Rock & Roll to the rock genres of the 1960s
You will be able to distinguish between the essential stylistic features of the rock genres and styles that have shaped the history of rock music from the early blues era to the late 1960s
You will familiarize yourself with essential musical concepts such as melody, harmony, rhythm, genre, form and style
You will be able to define the historical, sociological, political and economic factors that contributed to the rise and demise of rock styles, musicians, and groups
You will have the ability to define the role, the contribution, and the stylistic identity of the most popular and influential musicians and groups of the blues era, rock & roll, and the 1960s rock music (blues-based rock, psychedelic rock, art rock, the Beatles, etc.)

How is Pink Floyd differentiated from The Rolling Stones? Why is Jimi Hendrix considered as an immensely influential rock guitarist? What is the role of the social and political aspects in the San Francisco Hippies movement and the emergence of psychedelic rock?  

These are questions that can entail intriguing answers. The consideration of multiple narratives – style and stylistic influence, the social, political, and economic axes, etc. – against the musical timeline is essential to the thorough understanding and appraisal of the history of rock music. This is the approach I follow for the last 6 years in my university courses. It has proven very successful, and I see no reason not to apply it here as well!

In this course we will survey the history of rock music, from its roots (the blues) to the exciting rock genres of the 1960s, with a focus on: 

  • the various rock genres, sub-genres and styles

  • the artists that played a role in the arrival and evolution of rock music

  • the stylistic and other characteristics of each rock genre and sub-genre and the relationship between them

  • the role of the economic, political, and social parameters in the shaping of rock music

The course is arranged in 11 sections as follows: 

  1. Introduction & Overview 

    • Appraising a subject historically

    • Preliminary technical information – addressing essential musical parameters such as melody, harmony, rhythm, genre. form, and style

  2. The Blues

    • Country (Delta) blues

    • City (electric) blues

  3. Country & Western Music

    • C & W sub-genres (i.e., bluegrass and ‘honky-tonk’) and their impact on the 1950s rock & roll 

  4. Rock & Roll

    • Mainstream 1950s rock (Rock & Roll) 

    • Rockabilly

    • 1950s pop

  5. Blues-Based Rock

    • London in the early 1960s – fascination with the Blues and the creation of blues-based rock

    • The transformation of the blues into rock

    • The guitarist as a rock hero

  6. The Beatles

    • The role of the Fabulous Four in the formation of rock music in the 1960s

    • The ‘British Invasion’

  7. Folk Rock

    • ‘Purity’ and sensitivity – music as reflection of social ideals

    • Integration of the sensitivity of rock music with the energy and drive of a rhythm section comprised of electric instruments

  8. Surf Rock

    • Surf rock within the context of the surf culture in California during the early1960s 

  9. Psychedelic Rock – The San Francisco & the Hippies Movement

    • San Francisco and the Hippies Movement

    • The social and political context in the 1960s and its affect on rock music

    • Woodstock Music Festival

  10. A Quest for Sophistication – Art Rock

    • Infusing rock music with Western-European musical features

    • Electronically generated sounds; musical complexity

  11. Conclusion

    • Wrapping up the course

    • References to resources for further study

INTRODUCTION & OVERVIEW

1
Introduction and Overview
2
Preliminaries

ROOTS OF ROCK I - THE BLUES

1
The Blues - Historical Aspects
2
The Blues - Elements of Style
3
Quiz For Section 2

ROOTS OF ROCK II - COUNTRY & WESTERN MUSIC

1
Country & Western Music - Historical & Stylistic Aspects

THE BEGINNING - ROCK & ROLL

1
The Arrival of Rock & Roll
2
The Great Musicians
3
Rock & Roll - Stylistic Features
4
Quiz For SECTION 4

THE 1960S - TRANSFORMATION & INNOVATION: BLUES-BASED ROCK

1
Setting the Stage - London in the 1960s
2
Blues-Based Rock - Musicians & Bands I
3
Blues-Based Rock - Musicians and Bands II
4
Blues-Based Rock - Style & Transformation
5
Quiz For Section 5

THE BEATLES

1
The Phenomenon From Liverpool
2
Elements of Style I
3
Elements of Style II
4
Quiz For Section 6
5
The British Invasion

FOLK ROCK

1
Folk Rock - From Dylan to Simon & Garfunkel

SURF ROCK

1
Historical Aspects

PSYCHEDELIC ROCK - THE SAN FRANCISCO & THE HIPPIES MOVEMENT

1
Psychedelic Rock - Social Current & Musical Genre
2
Aspects of Style

A QUEST FOR SOPHISTICATION - ART ROCK

1
Art Rock I - Overview & Stylistic Nuances
2
Art Rock II - The Peak (1970s)

CONCLUSION

1
Conclusion & Suggestions
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