MUSC 144: Introduction to Country Music

Currently Offered:
1st Summer Session 2019  (5½ weeks: May 15- June 20)
Fall Semester 2019 (August 20–December 13)

This course explores the history of the country music genre, its significant performers, songwriters, songs, and cultural identity from 1922 to the present. Following a loose chronology, the course traces the evolution of specific musical styles and investigates issues related to culture, performance practice, transmission, and reception. Extensive listening assignments will introduce the distinct musical styles, voices, and performers that comprise the genre. Reading assignments cover the relationship of country music to American popular culture, historical representation, and authenticity. This course will critically evaluate country music’s musical content and contemporary cultural role—the primary texts for investigation are the songs themselves.

This course adopts a broad and inclusive understanding of the term “country.” Students will explore musical styles that relate to the central tradition of commercial country, even when those styles exist outside the mainstream.

At the end of the course, students should be able to:

  • listen to any song within the country genre and have some understanding of when it was recorded, in which musical style or scene it was recorded, and how it relates to the culture in which it was made.
  • explain the tensions within country music that both tie it to tradition and foster new and innovative developments.
  • describe the specific musical elements of the genre.
  • understand how the genre maintains its identity and contributes to the broader fabric of American popular culture.

Required Texts/Materials

You can find information on how to purchase textbooks and required materials on the Textbooks page of the Friday Center website.

Course Requirements

  • High-speed Internet
  • Live Concert: This course requires that you attend a live country music performance during the semester. The performance can be in your local region, and the instructor must approve your choice.

Course Details

  • Instructor: Jocelyn Neal, PhD; Fall 2018: Orita, Helen
  • Department: Music
  • Credit Hours: 3
  • View a sample course syllabus for the online course.

How to Enroll »