Course Title: Music Style Overview

Part A: Course Overview

Course Title: Music Style Overview

Credit Points: 12.00


Course Code




Learning Mode

Teaching Period(s)


City Campus


345H Media and Communication


Sem 2 2007,
Sem 2 2008,
Sem 2 2009,
Sem 1 2012,
Sem 1 2013,
Sem 1 2014


City Campus


360H Education


Sem 1 2006,
Sem 2 2006

Course Coordinator: Dr Shelley Brunt

Course Coordinator Phone: +61 03 9925 3789

Course Coordinator Email:

Course Coordinator Location: Building 36.4.14

Pre-requisite Courses and Assumed Knowledge and Capabilities

See Program Guide

Course Description

This course has been designed to provide you with an opportunity to acquire knowledge, understanding and appreciation of the historical development of styles of music in context with other major artistic, social, political and technological developments. Topics and areas of discussion will include:
• An overview of the development of specific music styles that have had a profound influence on the contemporary music industry.
• The history behind particular music styles, key artists and composers, significant forms and structures of composition, and influential works and songs.
• An examination of the forces affecting the development of contemporary music styles.
• The development of music in the Western world, with a focus on African-American traditions.

Objectives/Learning Outcomes/Capability Development

Upon successful completion of this course you should be able to:
• Classify and differentiate between the music styles addressed in this course.
• Explain the historical development of the music styles addressed in this course.
• Situate African-American music styles within social and cultural contexts.
• Identify and analyse the connections music styles have between society, culture, politics and race.

Overall, the course is intended to encourage you to think creatively from an overview position about the historical development of distinct styles of music and cultures that have played a major role in shaping the contemporary music industry, and to consider how these styles have impacted upon your own music-making practice and your understanding of the music industry.

Overview of Learning Activities

Each week will involve a lecture and a tutorial. We will focus on a specific theme outlined in the teaching schedule and will be related to specific reference material. Students will need to check the RMIT Blackboard Learning Hub/myRMIT website for each week’s readings. Lectures will provide historical overviews and theoretical perspectives, while tutorials will involve class discussion based on lecture topics and weekly readings. Attendance at lectures and tutorials is strongly recommended. You are expected to take an active part in contributing to class discussion and therefore are expected to have done the reading and be in attendance.

Overview of Learning Resources

RMIT will provide you with resources and tools for learning in this course through Blackboard and the RMIT Library.
This course guide identifies two different types of reading:
1) Required reading: you must do this each week and bring copies to your tutorials.
2) Recommended reading: you should consult  for assignments, or for topics you’re particularly interested in.

 Recommended Reading List:
Adelt, Ulrich (2010) Blues Music in the Sixties: A Story in Black and White, Rutgers University Press, New Jersey
Borthwick, Stuart and Ron Moy (2004) Popular Music Genres: An Introduction, Edinburgh University Press, Edinburgh
Brackett, David (2005) The Pop, Rock and Soul Reader: Histories and Debates, Oxford University Press, Oxford
Carboni, Marius (2011) ‘The Classical Music Business’, pp.195-223 in The Music Industry Handbook, Paul Rutter (ed.) Routledge, London
Charosh, Paul (1992) ‘“Popular” and “Classical” in the Mid-Nineteenth Century’, American Music, 10/2, pp. 117-135
Deri, Otto (1968) Exploring Twentieth-Century Music, Holt, Rinehart and Winston, New York
Frith, Simon (1996) Performing Rites: On the Value of Popular Music, Harvard University Press, Cambridge Massachusetts
Frith, Simon (2007) Taking Popular Music Seriously, Ashgate, Aldershot
Frith, Simon and Andrew Goodwin (1990) On Record: Rock, Pop, and the Written Word, Routledge, London
Frith, Simon, Will Straw and John Street (eds.) (2001) The Cambridge Companion to Pop and Rock, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge
Gillett, Charlie (1996) The Sound of the City: The Rise of Rock and Roll, Da Capo Press, New York
Gridley, Mark, Robert Maxham and Robert Hoff (1989) ‘Three Approaches to Defining Jazz’, The Musical Quarterly 73/4, pp. 513–531
Guralnick, Peter (1999) ‘Blues in History: A Quick Sketch’, pp. 36-61 in Feel Like Going Home: Portraits in Blues and Rock ‘n’ Roll, Back Bay, New York
Guralnick, Peter (1999) Feel Like Going Home: Portraits in Blues and Rock ‘n’ Roll, Back Bay, New York
Hayward, Philip (ed.) (1992) From Pop to Punk to Postmodernism: Popular Music and Australian Culture from the 1960s to the 1990s, Allen & Unwin, Sydney
Hesmondhalgh, David and Keith Negus (eds.) (2002) Popular Music Studies, Arnold, London
Hirshey, Gerri (2006) Nowhere to Run: The Story of Soul Music, Southbank Publishing, London
Hollerbach, Peter (2004) ‘(Re)voicing Tradition: Improvising Aesthetics and Identity on Local Jazz Scenes’, Popular Music, 23/2, pp. 155-171
Kastin, David (2006) ‘Nica’s Story: The Life and Legend of the Jazz Baroness’, Popular Music and Society, 29/3, pp. 279-298
Middleton, Richard (1990) Studying Popular Music, Open University Press, Milton Keynes
Middleton, Richard (2007) ‘O Brother, Let’s Go Down Home: Loss, Nostalgia and the Blues’, Popular Music, 26/1, pp. 47-64
Mitchell, Tony (1996) Popular Music and Local Identity: Rock, Pop and Rap in Europe and Oceania, Leicester University Press, London
Salzman, Eric (2002) Twentieth-Century Music: An Introduction (4th edition), Prentice Hall, New Jersey
Scott, Derek B. (ed.) (2009) The Ashgate Research Companion to Popular Musicology, Ashgate, Farnham
Shuker, Roy (2002) Popular Music: The Key Concepts (2nd edition), Routledge, London
Shuker, Roy (2008) Understanding Popular Music Culture (3rd edition), Routledge, London
Smith, Ayana (2005) ‘Blues, Criticism, and the Signifying Trickster’, Popular Music, 24/2, pp. 179-191
Star, Larry (2014) American Popular Music: From Minstrelsy to MP3. (4th edition), Oxford University Press, Oxford
Van Der Merwe (2007) Roots of the Classical: The Popular Origins of Western Music, Oxford University Press, Oxford

Overview of Assessment

There are three components of assessment in this course:
Tutorial Reading and Analysis = 20%
Essay: Proposal and Annotated Bibliography (10%) + Essay (30%) = 40%
Test = 40%
Please refer to Part B of the course guide for further information on assessment.