The History of Popular Music: From Pogroms to Punk and Pink Floyd

Ref: C3675763

One could almost say that 'pop' music came from Russia with love, as the Russian Jews, fleeing persecution, emigrated to America, bringing with them a musical tradition that was steeped in history. After a while, these immigrants heard Italian opera for the first time, along with the distinctive, melodic folk tunes of Ireland and Scotland and the gospel music of the Negroes as they all came to reside, cheek-by-jowl in the Lower East side of New York. It wouldn't be long before a hybrid of all of these national musical traditions would emerge. That was 'pop' music. We are going to study how these differing strands of musical traditions from a range of nations and cultures were woven together to result in what we now recognize as 'pop' music. Seven weeks of study and appreciation of the art of George Gershwin, Al Jolson, Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, Robert Johnson, Blind Willie McTell, Louis Armstrong, Brian Wilson, The Beatles, Bob Dylan, David Bowie and Led Zeppelin amongst others.

Course aim

A study and appreciation of 'popular' music from its earliest days to the 1960s. Jewish immigrants fleeing Russia mixed with Italians, Irish and Negroes in New York, USA around 1900. Such a vibrant mix of cultures was bound to yield something new!

Do I need any particular skills or experience?

  • No skills or experience needed
  • This course is suitable for beginners and improvers
  • This course is only for those with good listening skills.

By the end of the course I should be able to:

  • Define the term 'musical genre'.
  • Explain how the musics of different cultures influenced each other.
  • Describe the importance of technology in 'pop' music (amplification, radio, electronic recording, television & video).
  • Show appreciation that, until the advent of recorded music becoming widely available, sheet-music sales made up the sales 'charts' or 'hit parade'.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of some music theory.

How will I be taught?

  • The WEA tutor will use a range of different teaching and learning methods and encourage you and the group to be actively involved in your learning

What kind of feedback can I expect?

  • A range of informal activities will be used by the tutor to see what you are learning which may include quizzes, question and answer, small projects and discussion
  • You will have opportunities to discuss your progress with your tutor
  • You will be encouraged to consider other students work and give your opinions and suggestions

What else do I need to know?

  • Please bring notepaper and a pen. I will provide some hand-outs.

Pre-course work, reading and information sources

  • No pre reading or pre course work is required

What can I do next?

  • Progress to another WEA course
  • The second part of this course, beginning in the 1960s, begins after this one finishes.

Download full course information sheet

The History of Popular Music: From Pogroms to Punk and Pink Floyd

Enrolment Conditions

As a registered charity, and to meet our funders’ requirements, we need to check a few things with you before you book. Please could we ask that you check the list below to ensure you meet our basic criteria:

  • You are paying the standard fee (with a credit or debit card) or you are on any of the qualifying benefits
  • You have a valid email address so that you can receive confirmation of your booking
  • You have been resident in the UK, EU or EEA for the last 3 years
  • You are aged 19 years or older on 1st September 2019
  • You have read and accept our standard terms and conditions

Not sure or have further questions? Contact courseenquiries@wea.org.uk

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