Rock Music of the  1960-70s




In this class we will discuss and listen to some of the stylistic features of classic (1960's through early 1970's) British and American pop and rock music, including blues, Motown, soul and aspects of jazz which acted as clear influences.  This will not so much be a history of the music, but an overview of its stylistic ingredients.  We will focus specifically on what we are hearing that makes this music special, likeable and enduring.


Initially we will look at some basic elements common to the style: format, rhythm, instrumentation/arranging and harmony, musical precursors, certain cultural and technological influences, lyric content.


Next we will focus on specific artists and some of the individual traits that characterize their music.  We will also make comparisons between a variety of artists and their songs.  We will want to see how different artists often follow similar compositional procedures, but also how each evolved individually.


Finally, we will look at specific albums (as opposed to just select song tracks) to see how collections of songs were organized in significant ways and sequences.  This will show how often times the album is more than the sum of its parts and not just a convenient way to package a series of works.


Throughout the class, we will discuss terms and ideas specific to this type of music–written explanations will be provided.


The goal of the class will be to enhance and refine your listening abilities as well as to expand your musical vocabulary.


Some of the artists we will discuss include:


The Beach Boys

The Beatles


David Bowie

Earth, Wind and Fire

Aretha Franklin

Jimi Hendrix

Elton John

The 5th Dimension

The Grateful Dead

Led Zeppelin

The Left Banke

Joni Mitchell

The Monkees

Pink Floyd

The Rolling Stones

The Small Faces


The Who

The Zombies


You are encouraged to suggest other artists and/or particular songs that we can include in the curriculum. 


Handouts/downloads will be available on a weekly basis and also listening suggestions for homework.  Any music theory terms used in class will have a simplified accompanying explanation.






Jan 7



Basic Terms




Listening guide (for any/all songs)


Jan 14

Blues, Arrangements (covers) and Small Forms


Jan 21

Blues, Arrangements and Small Forms Continued



Jan 28

Featured Instruments

Keith Moon Article

History of Overdriven Guitar Tones


Feb 4

Featured Instruments continued



Feb 11

Untraditional/Extended Forms




Feb 18





Feb 25

Jazz Influences and Jamming

Coltrane: My Favorite Things

Davis: Shhh/Peaceful

Hubbard: First Light


Mar 4

Jamming, Digressions, Extended Sections



Mar 11

Particular Scales and Chords


Mixing Keys/Chromaticsm



Mar 18

Achievements in Album Continuity: Concept Albums


Mar 25

Album Continuity: Abbey Road