Online course: History of Rock, Part Two

Dates: any time

Duration: 13 hours

Rating: 4.8 / 5.0 out of 353 ratings (see top rating courses here)

Participating countries: any country

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Organizer: University of Rochester at Coursera


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History of Rock

This course, part 2 of a 2-course sequence, examines the history of rock, primarily as it unfolded in the United States, from the early 1970s to the early 1990s. This course covers the music of Led Zeppelin, the Allman Brothers, Carole King, Bob Marley, the Sex Pistols, Donna Summer, Michael Jackson, Madonna, Prince, Metallica, Run-DMC, and Nirvana, and many more artists, with an emphasis both on cultural context and on the music itself. We will also explore how developments in the music business and in technology helped shape the ways in which styles developed.

Emerging out of the experimental and ambitious years of late-60s psychedelia, rock splintered into a variety of styles in the 1970s as the music business continued to expand. By the end of the decade, punk and disco had challenged the excesses of the hippie aesthetic, as rock became more commercially streamlined and radio friendly. The emergence and rise of MTV transformed pop music and propelled the careers of Michael jackson and Madonna, while heavy metal and hip hop dominated the late 1980s. Nirvana leads alt-rock’s return to simplicity in the early 1990s.



WEEK 1: 1 hour to complete


WEEK 2: 2 hours to complete

The Growing Rock Monster (1970-77)

A series of styles continue to develop the combinations of late-1960s psychedelia: blues-rock, southern rock, progressive rock, jazz-rock, theatrical rock, country rock, and singer-songwriters. Rock becomes increasingly ambitious. [Read Chapter 8 and work through listening guides for that chapter, viewing dedicated video.]

Overview of the 1970s
Blues Rock British Based
American Blues Rock and Southern Rock
Progressive Rock
Theatrical Rock
British and Canadian Singer-Songwriters
Country Rock

WEEK 3: 2 hours to complete

Black Pop, Reggae, and the Rise of Disco (1970-79)

Moving along a parallel but mostly separate path, black pop develops with the help of James Brown and Sly and the Family Stone. Motown continues, the rise of funk and Blaxploitation films. Bob Marley and reggae. The emergence of disco the reaction of rock fans. [Read Chapter 9 and work through listening guides for that chapter, viewing dedicated video.]

Black Pop in the 1970s Intro
Sly Stone and the Rise of Funk
Motown in the 1970s
Philadelphia Sound
Blaxploitation Soundtracks
James Brown George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic
The Rise of Reggae
The Growing Rock Monster (1970-77) and Black Pop, Reggae, and the Rise of Disco (1970-79)

WEEK 4: 2 hours to complete

Mainstream Rock, Punk, and New Wave (1975-79)

Rock style from the early 70s are streamlined and labeled corporate rock, as the music business expands even further. The mega-album. Punk reacts with a return to simplicity. New wave develops the punk attitude. [Read Chapter 10 and work through listening guides and dedicated video.]

Module 3 Intro
Mainstream Rock 1975–801
Leaner Prog, Louder Singer-Songwriters
US Punk 1967-75
UK Punk 1974-77
American New Wave 1977-80
British New Wave 1977-80
Summarizing the 1970s

WEEK 5: 2 hours to complete

I Want My MTV (1980-89)

MTV emerges from a developing cable television industry. Michael Jackson and Thriller. The rise of Madonna, Prince, and Janet Jackson. Does MTV make music more visual than aural? Mainstream rockers continue thrive. [Read Chapter 11 and work through listening guides and dedicated video.]

The Rise of MTV
The Rise of MTV Part Two
Michael Jackson and Madonna
Prince and Janet Jackson
MTV Success Stories
New Traditionalists and New Wave
New Acts Old Styles and Blue-Eyed Soul
Dinosaurs Adapt and Thrive

Mainstream Rock, Punk, and New Wave (1975-79) and I Want My MTV (1980-89)

WEEK 6: 2 hours to complete

Heavy Metal, Rap, and Indie Rock (1980-89)

Developing out of underground scenes of the late 1970s, heavy metal and hip hop become important mainstream styles in the late 1980s, aided by exposure on MTV. The rock reaction against rap. [Read Chapter 12 and work through listening guides and dedicated video.]

Module 5 Intro
Heavy Metal Grows
Heavy Metal Hits the Big Time
Metal Ambition
The Roots of Rap
Rap Crosses Over
CNN for Black People
Punk Goes Hardcore
Indie Rock Underground

WEEK 7: 2 hours to complete

Alternative Rock, Rock Alternatives, and Widening Gaps (the 1990s)

The growth of “classic rock” and the development of the history-of-rock awareness. A survey of artists as they relate to earlier trends in the history of rock, including teen idols, hip-hop, 60s-influenced rock, female singer-songwriters, dance music, indie rock, and heavy metal. [Read Chapters 13 and 14 and work through listening guides and dedicated video.]

Module 6 Intro
The Rise of Alternative
Indie Rock
Metal and Alternative Extensions
Hip-Hop in the 1990s
Classic Rock
New Rock Traditions
Female Singer-Songwriters
Teen Idols
Electronic Dance Music – Conclusion
Heavy Metal, Rap, and the Rise of Alternative Rock (1980-89) and Widening Gaps (the 1990s)