Bader International Study Centre


at Herstmonceux Castle, U.K.



at Herstmonceux Castle, U.K.

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MUSC 171/3.0 Social History of Popular Music

Instructor: Dr. Shara Rambarran

This course is designed to engage students to learn about the developments of popular music. Initially focusing from the 1950s to current trends, there will also be an insight on earlier eras in which other forms of popular music was heard. 

In general, the study of popular music will be taught by enlightening an understanding on the musical stylistic features of significant styles and genres (such as Blues, Rock, Pop, Soul, Reggae, Dance, Hip Hop, Electronica) by referring to artists, musicians, performance, recording industry and technology as well as an introduction to analysing audio and visual texts. There will be an opportunity to explore the scenes or related sub-styles or genres that are associated with its core. The student will develop their musical knowledge by understanding the events, issues or intertextual aspects that contributed to popular music. This will be achieved by gaining an insight to popular culture, social, cultural and critical theory—otherwise known as popular musicology—and when appropriate, this will also question the authenticity, identity and performativity of the performer. Regardless of having musical experience or not, the student will learn the appropriate analytical and musical vocabulary during the course as well as reading material on various subjects. The students will also have the opportunity to participate in the topics discussed or to share their personal taste in music by offering a critical judgement or evaluation either in class, presentation or written work. There will also be a field study component integrated into the course, which will include attending gigs/musicals/exhibitions (past gigs included: The Feeling, Krs-One, Maxi Priest, Aswad, Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry, George Clinton, The Family Stone). The first Professor of Popular Music (UK), Sheila Whiteley will present a special guest lecture at the BISC.