Popular Music Cultures

Module code: W3052
Level 4
15 credits in autumn semester
Teaching method: Seminar, Lecture
Assessment modes: Coursework

This module will provide you with an introduction to the critical discourses regarding jazz and popular music. This module will broaden your historical awareness and critical understanding of different traditions in jazz and popular music, although it is not designed to be a historical overview.

Likewise, while some technical understanding is required, the primary focus is not on minute analytical distinctions between different styles or practical instruction in song-writing, production or performance. Rather, we will concentrate on the social and cultural functions and meanings of the popular music cultures studied and the reasons why they exert such a powerful hold on audiences and practitioners alike.

Every week we will focus on a critical issue that has been central in discussions about popular and jazz music. Deliberately, these issues transcend the boundaries of style (or 'genre') and historical period. Thus, rather than honing in on the minutiae of individual styles, we will seek to contextualise them more broadly and see what, perhaps surprisingly, they have in common and what historical lineages connect them. It is the intention that this wider awareness of historical, social and cultural contexts will also enable those of you who are musicians to reflect more critically on their own artistic practice, thus enriching their work.

Module learning outcomes

  • Demonstrate specialist skills in popular musicology including an understanding of the aesthetics of popular music.
  • Demonstrate, through analytical essays, a critical appreciation of popular music cultures in terms of musical style and technique, cultural meaning and historical context.
  • Show competence in the analysis and interpretation of popular music genres and show comprehension of the means by which they are produced.
  • Demonstrate, via appropriate format, relevant research skills and scholarly method (detailed analysis of a selected topic, original research, appropriate methodology) in accordance with the level.