MUSIC 159

Course Description: How can music analysis inform the way we understand, listen to, and write about popular music? This course introduces tools and methods for studying features and compositional styles of popular music after 2000. Through weekly readings and aural skills exercises, students will become familiar with recent analytical approaches to song form, texture, rhythm & meter, instrumental and vocal timbre, sampling, and music videos. In weekly written work, students will conduct their own music analyses by implementing tools introduced in class and using various audio editing and analysis software. An ever-present concern of the class will be the ways in which analytical methods and insights interact with issues of race, gender, and sexuality. The course will focus primarily on U.S. popular music broadly construed, and students will have several opportunities to analyze and provide critical insight on the music of their own choosing. 

Who should take this class? Avid music-makers, producers, and listeners of popular music who want to develop a vocabulary for engaging critically with their musical experience. Students should be prepared to provide a precise description of how this course aligns with their academic and professional goals. 

What will I take away from this class? You will be able to articulate with precision how the sonic features of popular music (form, rhythm & meter, timbre) shape your listening. Skills learned in this course can be applied to journalism, music criticism, songwriting, music production, and humanistic inquiry more broadly.