Active and Recent Courses
Department of Music, University of Alberta
Music 103: Introduction to Popular Music (2015 – Present)
This course provides students with a survey of the history of popular music as a category of musical and cultural practice, an industry, a form of popular culture, and an object of study during the twentieth century. As the course works through major moments and developments from (primarily) North American and British popular music history, we will consider events, artists, and issues within wider historical and social contexts.
Music 203: Issues in Popular Music Studies (2016 – Present)
Using a variety of critical concept and theories, this course explores our everyday experience of popular music in contemporary society. We investigate cultural and social issues related to the production, reception, circulation, and performance of popular music. Students will read from key texts and authors in a number of fields that contribute to the larger discipline of Popular Music Studies, such as: Cultural Studies, Media Studies, Cultural Industries, Production Culture, Sound Studies, and Media Policy. Topics will include genre and identity, production practices, youth and subcultures, music scenes, digital music, cultural labour, and copyright. Throughout the course, students will be encouraged to reflect on and discuss their listening habits and their interaction with popular music.
Music 670: Proseminar in Popular Music and Media Studies (2019 - Present)
Music 670 is a proseminar that provides an overview of the history, issues, and methodologies in Popular Music Studies and its related fields, and explores music in its variety of popular and mediated forms. It will critically evaluate the production, reception, performance, and circulation of popular music and explore the various ways in which popular music communicates ideologies, meanings, aesthetics, forms of resistance, and cultural and technological shifts. We focus on the processes and methods that popularize music and facilitate its ability to reach audiences, both historically and in a contemporary context. A key component of this proseminar is the use of a Media Studies approach to the study of popular music, paying special attention to issues of power, industries, identity, sound technology, visual media, cultural policy, and cultural geography. This course is open to all graduate students in the Department of Music and students in related disciplines are welcome to join through obtaining permission of the Instructor.
Music 487/587: Period Studies: Popular Music in the Digital Age (2017)
Over the last few decades the music industry has been subject to a severe case of “disruption,” due to changes in technology, the economy, and listening practices. Artists like Chance the Rapper, Beyoncé, and Radiohead have challenged record industry customs by releasing music with experimental funding and promotional models. New services like Spotify and YouTube have become common ways of listening to music but have also been criticized for failing to pay artists a fair price per stream. Popular Music in the Digital Age is a course that looks at the relationship between popular music and digital culture, charting the history of digital music from the development of digital audio technologies to their role in the music industries today.
Music 484/584: Studies in Music and Society: Music Scenes and Creative Cities (2016, 2019)
This course investigates the various relationships between cities and their local musical activity. It considers the ways in which local identities and popular histories are shaped by music cultures (and vice versa). Drawing on a number of interdisciplinary theoretical and conceptual frameworks for studying local music (including popular music studies, media studies, cultural studies, and cultural geography) this course explores issues and themes such as: the transition from subcultural studies to music scene studies; cultural and municipal policies for local music; the cultural histories of specific music scenes; the role of music in branding “creative cities;” the ways in which music can be a force for forming localized social movements; the role of cities in shaping the sound and lyrics of songs; and, technology and global/translocal scenes. Students will be required to participate frequently throughout the course and to reflect critically on their own experience of music scenes (both here in Edmonton and beyond). We will also regularly evaluate the representation and documentation of local music scenes through a variety of texts (including documentaries, television shows, news stories, and so forth).