MUSIC 9: ROCK: THE EARLY YEARS (1950-1980)
You will write one short paper for this class. You will find the details below.
But first: a warning. Short writing assignments like these are both easier and harder than longer essays. On the one hand, you only have to write two to three pages; on the other, it is all too easy to say nothing at all in 500750 words. Treat these short papers as clear, well-reasoned, and articulate pieces of music criticism. You should formulate your opinion in the first sentences, and then use a series of short paragraphs to present evidence to back up your opinion. You must discuss the music as part of the way you bolster your argument, i.e., you must write about what it sounds like. Dont fall into the common trap of discussing just the words and/or the visual aspects. This is a class on music. Make sure you write about music and gender in your papers. If you do not write about the music (i.e., what it sounds like), you will not get a grade higher than B.
Choose one of the following topics:
1. Scenes: Choose one of the following three seminal rock citiesMemphis, Tennessee, New York City, or Lost Angelesan describe how the musical scene changed over the period of time covered by this course. Refer to those articles in your readings that discuss music in each city, and discuss the career of musicians associated with that musical scene, as well as the music businesses that may be found there (this could include radio, recording companies, recording studios, or well-known clubs).
2. The Songwriters Art. Discuss how song-writing has changed from the early 1950s to 1980. Who wrote the majority of songs at the dawn of rock? When does this model change? What factors complicate the notion of a composer in rock and roll? How were composers paid for their contributions? Refer to those articles in your readings that discuss songwriters, and discuss the musicians associated with those writers.
3. Style and Influence. Pick two major figures/bands from two different eras; the earlier figure must have a demonstrable influence on the latter. Discuss the career of the earlier musician(s) and how the later figure(s) modeled themselves upon the earlier one. Discuss as well how the later figure(s) expanded on the earlier style or took it in a different direction. How did each musician or band relate to the music business as it existed in that era?