Group One: Monday, 10-12 H3.47;
Group Two: Monday 1-3 H3.58
During the early C20th various musical forms, which drew on local musical cultures, many of which were African-American, came together to remake popular music as a dynamic and vibrant force. As the century progressed popular music became an important factor in popular culture more generally, influencing, among other things, politics, media, leisure and fashion. Popular music’s importance has long been the subject of debate with criticism from commentators and intellectuals, including the Frankfurt School’s Kulturindustrie’ critique which saw it as commodified entertainment, whereas others, notably Eric Hobsbawm, saw popular music as more complex and at times both hegemonic and counter-hegemonic.
These debates have continued and become part of a lively historiography which this 30 CATS undergraduate final-year Advanced Option module draws upon as it explores the main developments in African-American popular music. It uses, but takes a critical approach to genre, explores popular music’s role within mass culture, the impact of technology, the relationship between popular and art music, the debate over ‘authenticity’, the link to other arts movements, the impact of race, gender and class, and music’s role in reflecting and changing politics and identity.