High art and academia are now realizing that within the realm of popular music, there are important lessons to be learned. This shift in attitude is best exemplifed by Noel Coward when he said, “Extraordinary how potent cheap music is”.  Answers to the following questions can tell us as much about Western Art Music as our own personal tastes.

Why are the Beatles still the world’s greatest rock-and-roll band?

What can a string quartet learn from a stage rock band?

Is Justin Beiber “authentic” or “manufactured”?

Lady Gaga – feminist pioneer or media sell-out?

What is the Gaze in popular music and Western European Art Music?

Who is Edward Bernays and how did he sell pianos to the masses?

Theodor Adorno, Schonberg’s greatest champion, hates your dance music. Why?

Jay Chou and SHE – derivative or hybrid?

Does music CanCon, Juno, and MAPL matter any more?

Why are Andre Rieu and Celine Dion considered musical “kitsch”?

What’s the difference between a Stratocaster and a Telecaster?

These are only a few of the hot topics discussed in M403J, Introduction to the Study of Popular Music. Using critical theory and cultural studies, learn how to examine the ideologies of popular music, and discover why the study of pop and rock is the fastest growing domain in schools of music around the world.

Non-music students are welcome.

Some students will showcase their favourite examples of music and dance for discussion in the classroom. Video and audio excerpts are regularly featured. The classes are casual and the lecture material is challenging.

M403J Syllabus

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