MUSIC 505 is a “survey course,” one that is designed to give a comprehensive overview of North American popular music history and repertoire.

Answer the question below for your essay. 1. MUSIC 505 is a “survey course,” one that is designed to give a comprehensive overview of North American popular music history and repertoire. As such, it does two things: a) creates a “canon” of “important” musical works; and b) addresses a wide range of music and musicians without being able to go too far in-depth on any one topic.

By the time you begin this essay, you’ve got a sense of the trajectory of popular music; the kinds of ideologies and practices that govern its production and reception. But do you think that something may be missing from the canon that you’re hearing and reading about? This is your chance to speak up!

First of all, consider what goes into producing a canon in any discipline. By definition, a canon is a collection of the most important, influential works in any given art form; it becomes the foundation against which non-canonic works are compared, and is routinely taught to students of the subject. For example, the classical music canon includes composers such as Bach, Handel, Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven, but often ignores female composers (e.g., Clara Schumann), black composers (e.g., William Grant Still), or non-Western composers (Rentaro Taki). Our tendency in popular music is to privilege male singer-songwriters and guitarists. Jimi Hendrix, Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan, or The Beatles all take precedence over artists like Kate Bush, Bjork, Kraftwerk, or Elizabeth Cotten.

Your task in this essay is to find an artist or group not discussed in class, and prove why they should be included in the pop music canon. This means we cannot have heard their music or discussed them at any time during the course. If you are unsure as to whether they come up in future lectures, check with the prof before choosing. Naturally, you should be passionate about your chosen artist, since your job is to convince the reader that they are as – if not more – important to popular music than the artists you’re already learning about. However, you should approach your topic as though you are appearing on a CBC or CNN broadcast: as an authority, with bulletproof backup as to why the artist has left an indelible print on popular music history. Your reasoning should stand up to scrutiny. This means using reliable, academic sources to back up your claims: look up information about the artist’s genre, social and historical context, radio formats and regulations, or issues around gender, race, age, sexuality, geography, and class as they may pertain to your artist. 2 For example: why is Suzi Quatro not part of the pop music canon?

Is it because she was a female bass player leading her own rock band in the 1970s, when that was a rarity? Who made decisions around what she recorded and when she got airplay? Who has since cited her as an influence? Why does she belong in the pop music canon? While you are presenting a compelling case for an artist’s inclusion, remember you must also explain the importance of their music through music analysis similar to what we do in class. Discuss a recording by this artist in detail, using specific musical terminology from class, including elements such as timbre, melody, harmony, tempo, dynamics, rhythm, and form. What does the song tell us about the longevity of the artist or what is meaningful about their music? Fold that into your broader discussion. *All papers must contain musical analysis based on the terms used in class. This analysis must be incorporated into the paper, not separate. Analysis should occupy approximately 15-20% of your paper. (1-2 pages)

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