An online web book that covers the elements, artists and recorded tracks of rock artists. The book offers biographical material and an aesthetic context to support an argument that rock should be considered a unique and valid art form. Rock is compared to other artistic forms like poetry, film, etc.
Type of Material:
This material might be used in conjunction with other textbooks in music appreciation classes that include contemporary popular music. It also provides a model for critical analysis of rock music and critical thinking in general.
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Identify Major Learning Goals:
The major learning goal is to look at rock music in the context of its value as an art and how it represents the culture and the artist.
Target Student Population:
High school and college music appreciation students.
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills:
This material takes a strong stand on the validity of rock as a unique and valid artform. It balances its biographical material with recommended recordings.
The tone of this web book is one more of a music critic than a music historian. It does not present the material as an evolution of rock styles but more as a collection of primary artists. The premises used to define rock as separate from other musical artforms are arguable and might be misleading if used as a sole source for studying the development of rock. Also the the author seems to draw a distinction between rock and rock 'n roll which is not clearly explained. Mention of a rock canon is given but its relationship to cultural forces is not pursued. Some of his references to other styles like jazz and classical might be considered naive by historians of those styles.
Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool
The approach taken might be useful in a larger context that is balanced by a more traditional historical account of rock and its developing canon. The roles of critic and historians to a developing canon could be explored. The author includes quotes that could be the basis for discussions on the value of the arts. There are several separate components that could be used individually or in combination to develop thoughtful topics and encourage discussion in class. The author suggests that the site is appropriate for those who are relatively new to rock music, who want an introduction to the art form that takes them beyond a mere history, and beyond an exposure to various popular hits of the era and those already familiar with rock music, who want a different perspective on the music, and a deeper understanding of the aesthetic dynamics that make rock music a unique art form.
As a sole source to cover the history of rock this web book might be misleading to music appreciation students. It is based on assumptions that are more common to popular and commercial music.
Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty
This site is very easy to use and navigate. Although encouraged to read the material as tradition book in sequence a student can move across the material out of sequence very easily. There are some short musical examples throughout the text and links to iTunes to download suggested materials.
Faculty may need to create a broader historical context for this material. Longer music tracks and audio clips would be ideal, but copyright concerns inhibit the length and availability. The author is able to creatively and effectively provide examples with the shorter files.
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