About this Course
This course, part 1 of a 2-course sequence, examines the history of rock, primarily as it unfolded in the United States, from the days before rock (pre-1955) to the end of the 1960s. This course covers the music of Elvis Presley, Chuck Berry, Phil Spector, Bob Dylan, the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix, Cream, and many more artists, with an emphasis both on cultural context and on the music itself. We will also explore how developments in the music business and in technology helped shape the ways in which styles developed. Rock emerged in the mid 1950s as a blending of mainstream pop, rhythm and blues, and country and western--styles that previously had remained relatively separate. This new style became the music of the emerging youth culture and was often associated with teen rebellion. We will follow the story of how this rowdy first wave of rock and roll (1955-59) was tamed in the early 60s but came roaring back with the Beatles and the Rolling Stones and then went psychedelic by the end of the decade.
Globe

100% online course

Start instantly and learn at your own schedule.
Clock

Approx. 18 hours to complete

Suggested: 12-24 hours of videos and quizzes
Comment Dots

English

Subtitles: English, Serbian, Chinese (Simplified)
Globe

100% online course

Start instantly and learn at your own schedule.
Clock

Approx. 18 hours to complete

Suggested: 12-24 hours of videos and quizzes
Comment Dots

English

Subtitles: English, Serbian, Chinese (Simplified)

Syllabus - What you will learn from this course

1

Section
Clock
1 hour to complete

Introduction

...
Reading
1 video (Total 4 min), 7 readings
Video1 videos
Reading7 readings
Welcome to the Course10m
General Overview10m
Syllabus10m
Grading and Logistics10m
Music Fundamentals10m
Listening Guides (19 videos)10m
About the Professor10m
Clock
2 hours to complete

The World Before Rock and Roll (1900-1955)

The Role of Tin Pan Alley in mainstream pop, the formation of a national audience through radio and the rise of television, the pre-rock pop of Frank Sinatra, Patti Page, and Les Paul and Mary Ford; rhythm and blues in the years before rock and roll; country and western and the rise of Nashville....
Reading
11 videos (Total 95 min)
Video11 videos
Radio and Regional vs National Audiences8m
The Stars of Pop Music Before Rock and Roll12m
Les Paul, Inventor - The Role of Technology6m
Origins of Country & Western (pre WWII)9m
The Rise of Nashville13m
Rhythm and Blues (Pre 1945)7m
Rhythm & Blues (Post 1945)11m
Regional R&B Radio in the 1950s6m
Doo Wop and Gospel6m
Hokum Blues and Sexual Lyrics5m

2

Section
Clock
2 hours to complete

The Birth and First Flourishing of Rock and Roll (1955-59)

Chart crossover and cover versions, the first hits of Bill Haley, Chuck Berry, Fats Domino, and Little Richard, the rise of Elvis Presley, the music of Jerry Lee Lewis and Buddy Holly, the rise of American Bandstand, the payola scandal and the "death of rock and roll."...
Reading
8 videos (Total 88 min), 1 quiz
Video8 videos
Radio and Records12m
Crossovers and Covers10m
The First Rock and Rollers Cross Over13m
The Rise of Elvis Presley12m
Sam Phillips Selling Elvis Contract3m
Rockabilly in the Wake of Elvis12m
The Day the Music Died11m
Quiz1 practice exercises
The World Before Rock and Roll and The Birth and First Flourishing of Rock and Roll0m

3

Section
Clock
1 hour to complete

The Demise of Rock and the Promise of Soul (1959-63)

Was this era the dark ages for rock music or was it a golden era cut short by the British invasion? The music of teen idols, the folk revival, early surf music, sweet soul, rockabilly pop, and girl groups. The Brill Building songwriters and the rise of the producer. Playlets and splatter platters....
Reading
9 videos (Total 81 min)
Video9 videos
The Brill Building Approach to Pop8m
Teen Idols6m
Producers and Girl Groups9m
Sweet Soul7m
TV, Movies, and Dance Crazes15m
The Folk Revival10m
Rockabilly Popsters8m
Surf Music10m

4

Section
Clock
2 hours to complete

The Beatles and the British Invasion (1964-66)

The Beatles transform the UK music scene and then invade America. Other Beatles-type British bands. The London blues scene and the Rolling Stones. Other Stones-type bands. The Who and the Kinks....
Reading
10 videos (Total 83 min), 1 quiz
Video10 videos
The Early 1960s in the US & UK11m
The Rise of the Beatles11m
Beatles as Students of American Pop Music5m
Beatles From Craftsmen to Artists9m
Blues in the UK4m
The Rolling Stones Emerge7m
The Stones in The States5m
Other British Bands10m
The Kinks and the Who12m
Quiz1 practice exercises
The Demise of Rock and the Promise of Soul (1959-63) and The Beatles and the British Invasion (16964-66)0m

5

Section
Clock
1 hour to complete

American Responses (1965-67)

Dylan, the Byrds and folk rock. Garage bands in the northwest. Sonny and Cher and the legacy of Phil Spector. TV rock, Paul Revere and the Raiders, and the Monkees. Music in New York and Los Angeles....
Reading
7 videos (Total 76 min)
Video7 videos
Dylan Goes Electric8m
Folk Rock and the Byrds11m
The Phil Spector Legacy11m
Meanwhile, Back East8m
Garage Bands8m
TV Rock14m

6

Section
Clock
2 hours to complete

Motown Pop and Southern Soul (1960-69)

Berry Gordy and the rise and first flourishing of Motown. Atlantic, Stax, and southern soul (Memphis, Muscle Shoals, New York). Parallels between Motown and Stax. James Brown and the roots of funk. ...
Reading
7 videos (Total 74 min), 1 quiz
Video7 videos
Hitsville, USA: Motown13m
The Motown Performers13m
Soulsville, USA: Stax and Southern Soul (7:25)7m
The Stax Performers (12:06)12m
Motown, Stax, the British Invasion, and the American Response (6:37)6m
James Brown (12:44)12m
Quiz1 practice exercises
American Responses and Motown Pop and Southern Soul0m

7

Section
Clock
2 hours to complete

Psychedelia (1966-69)

How can music be psychedelic? Underground psychedelic scenes in San Francisco and London. Psychedelia in LA. The Summer of Love and the rise of hippie culture. The birth of FM rock and rock magazines. Woodstock and Altamont....
Reading
9 videos (Total 103 min)
Video9 videos
The Beginnings of the Hippie Aesthetic8m
Pushing the Envelope Beatles and Beach Boys13m
Psychedelia in San Francisco - Subculture11m
Psychedelia in San Francisco – Important Groups13m
Psychedelia in London and Underground Favs11m
Psychedelia in London – Mainstream Stars10m
Los Angeles and Elsewhere11m
A Hippie Nation8m

8

Section
Clock
1 hour to complete

Final Exam

Final exam for this course....
Reading
1 quiz
Quiz1 practice exercises
Final Exam0m
4.8

Top Reviews

By BLMar 13th 2018

Provided insight into what I was listening to as a pre-teen. I didn't have the exposure to some of the older roots or the an understanding of the business forces that shaped the music I had access to.

By SMOct 2nd 2016

This course has really helped to fill out my piecemeal understanding of the development of rock music. The pace and content of learning has been well considered and Prof Covach is to be congratulated.

Instructor

Avatar

John Covach

Professor of Music and Director

About University of Rochester

The University of Rochester is one of the nation's leading private universities. Located in Rochester, N.Y., the University provides exceptional opportunities for interdisciplinary study and close collaboration with faculty through its unique cluster-based curriculum. Its College, School of Arts and Sciences, and Hajim School of Engineering and Applied Sciences are complemented by its Eastman School of Music, Simon School of Business, Warner School of Education, Laboratory for Laser Energetics, School of Medicine and Dentistry, School of Nursing, Eastman Institute for Oral Health, and the Memorial Art Gallery....

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Once you enroll for a Certificate, you’ll have access to all videos, quizzes, and programming assignments (if applicable). Peer review assignments can only be submitted and reviewed once your session has begun. If you choose to explore the course without purchasing, you may not be able to access certain assignments.

  • If you pay for this course, you will have access to all of the features and content you need to earn a Course Certificate. If you complete the course successfully, your electronic Certificate will be added to your Accomplishments page - from there, you can print your Certificate or add it to your LinkedIn profile. Note that the Course Certificate does not represent official academic credit from the partner institution offering the course.

  • Yes! Coursera provides financial aid to learners who would like to complete a course but cannot afford the course fee. To apply for aid, select "Learn more and apply" in the Financial Aid section below the "Enroll" button. You'll be prompted to complete a simple application; no other paperwork is required.

More questions? Visit the Learner Help Center