GE Course: History of Rock 'n' Roll

Music 2252

Autumn and Spring Semesters; also offered online


GE: Visual and Performing Arts

Open to music majors and non-majors. No previous musical experience required.

Rated "best GE course on campus" in The Lantern's "Best of OSU" online poll.

Course Description

Rock 'n' roll was youth culture's way of roaring onto the scene in later 20th-century America and Europe. It energized the revolutions and protest movements of the 1960s, while helping popularize African-American musical elements around the globe and then giving voice to the fragmenting of popular taste in the 1970s and documenting the economic consolidations of the 1980s.

This course is a historical survey of rock 'n' roll, combining a review of musical elements with issues of history, generational identity, ethnicity and broader ideas of culture. We will begin with blues from the 1920s, and will end with a look at the ways rock split up in the later 20th century to the present day into various genres (like metal, grunge, alternative, indie, hip-hop, glam and punk). In the process, we will track the roles played by those who have tried to censor and commercialize rock 'n' roll, and talk about the role of nostalgia as rock has slowly started giving way to other forms of music. Special attention will be focused on Elvis Presley, the Beatles, Led Zeppelin, David Bowie and Nirvana.

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