Popular Music Studies Minor


The Popular Music Studies minor provides students with a strong grounding in the history of popular music with a focus on the US and UK.  Students in the minor will study not only the history of rock, pop, jazz, and other genres but also the social and political contexts that shaped the sound of the music over time. The minor blends survey courses with seminar-style deep dives into some of the most influential musicians of the last century, from the Beatles to Radiohead to Bruce Springsteen.

Degree Offered

  • Minor in Popular Music Studies


Todd Dellinger
Associate Professor
Chair, Department of Performing Arts
Fine Arts, 140

Program Website: Popular Music Studies

Associated Department:  Performing Arts

Related Programs:

Popular Music Studies Minor Requirements

(18 credits)

Required Courses12
History of Pop and Rock Part I
History of Pop and Rock Part 2
Digital Composition of Popular Music
Digital Synthesis
Select at least one of the following:
Popular Music Theory I
and Popular Music Theory Lab I
Popular Music Theory II
and Popular Music Theory Lab II
Popular Music Arranging
Digital Mixing and Mastering
Select no more than one of the following:
Music of the Beatles
The Music of Radiohead
World Music
Unpacking Bruce Springsteen
Total Credits18

Courses and Descriptions

MUS 106 Survey of Music History II 3 Credits

A chronological survey of Western music from the classical through the contemporary periods stressing the origin and evolution of musical forms, musical styles, and the important composers since 1750. The relation between the music and the aesthetic movements of each period is studied.

MUS 204 Jazz History 3 Credits

Survey from 19th C. roots to 21st C. styles. Development of listening skills and overview of musical skills used by jazz performers. Exploration of the relationship between jazz and poetry, race relations, and the reputation of jazz in popular culture.

Prerequisite(s): CMP 120 or CMP 125.

MUS 205 History of Pop and Rock Part I 3 Credits

This course charts the history of popular music from its origins until the 1960s. Looking at performers, song-writers, bands and pop genres we will chart the dynamic evolution of popular music from its roots in the blues, early jazz, ragtime and military band marches to the music of Elvis, Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Buddy Holly, the Rolling Stones and the Beatles. We look at the recording industry and the advent of he gramophone record and the important role of radio and television in expanding the reach of popular music directly into the home, creating a vibrant soundtrack for peoples lives.

MUS 206 History of Pop and Rock Part 2 3 Credits

Description: This course charts the history of popular music from the 1960s to todays. Looking at performers, song-writers, bands and pop genres we will chart the dynamic evolution of popular music through Acid Rock, Progressive (Prog) Rock, Hard Rock, Singer-Songwriters, Disco, Reggae, Funk, Punk, Heavy Metal, New Wave, Grunge, Electronica and Rap & Hip-Hop. We look at the development of analog and digital media and how new forms of delivery of product shapes the business model of the industry and beyond.

MUS 208 Music of the Theater 3 Credits

A study of music drama both historical and contemporary covering European opera of the Baroque, classical and romantic periods, and the American musical theatre, especially the contemporary Broadway musical.

MUS 209 Great Composers 3 Credits

A study of selected major composers life, works, and historical significance with an emphasis on the listening experience. Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, Stravinsky, or others.

MUS 212 Cartoon and Anime Culture 3 Credits

This course investigates the music and culture of animated films and television shows, anime, animated shorts including cartoons, and related incidental music for documentary films.

MUS 214 Writing about Music 3 Credits

This course instructs students in the art of writing about music, from small-form criticism to large scale scholarship, focusing especially on the ability to translate what one hears into engaging prose.

Prerequisite(s): CMP 120 and 125, MUS 110, 110L, and MUS 213.

MUS 215 Music & Technology in a Mobile Society 3 Credits

This course compares the recent history of music technology to past innovations, focusing on the aesthetic implications and ideological influences of an increasingly mobilized musical milieu.

MUS 218 Postmodernism & Popular Culture 3 Credits

This course considers music in light of the ideological trends of postmodernism in order to better understand contemporary music in its cultural context.

MUS 300 Beethoven and the Romantic Age 3 Credits

A study of the Romantic period with particular emphasis on Beethoven. The classical heritage, the transformation of that heritage into romantic terms, the prominent influence of Beethoven on 19th century musical style.

MUS 304 Music of the Beatles 3 Credits

This course is a very in-depth analysis of the music and personalities of the Beatles. The student will gain in depth insight to the Beatles songs and albums as the course proceeds through the music chronologically. This will be contextualized historically and sociologically where required.

MUS 306 Contemp Music Experience 3 Credits

A survey of European and American musical styles of the late 19th and 20th centuries. Topics include postromantic music, neoclassicism, serialism, electronic music, and the current avant garde.

MUS 307 The Music of Radiohead 3 Credits

This course investigates the music, lyrics, art and marketing strategies of the British so called ”alternative” band, Radiohead, moving song by song through their demos, videos and albums.

MUS 308 World Music 3 Credits

To understand world music as a means of appreciating and respecting our common inheritance as humans. To better understand in what ways music is a ‘language’ and how this functions within ‘community’ including aspect of ritual, celebration, religion and spirituality. The student will be expected to be able to discern between various genres of world music understanding the wider cultural context including, but not limited to, popular music within that same culture.

MUS 309 Film Music 3 Credits

A study of music in feature film, documentary film, and television. A chronological survey of film music from silent to contemporary film, animated shorts, and television, with emphasis on listening to recorded performance of representative works.

MUS 310 The Film Music of Stanley Kubrick 3 Credits

This course is an in-depth study of the way in which music impacts society through the art of film. Focusing on the films of Stanley Kubrick (e.g. The Shining; 2001: A Space Odyssey; A Clockwork Orange; Full Metal Jacket; Eyes Wide Shut; Dr. Strangelove; Lolita) we will study a variety of strategies within which music integrates, counterpoints or ironically resists themes such as war, sex, politics, religion, gender etc. Also we will observe how music interacts with other aesthetics in film such as light, camera methods, 1. diegetic/source, 2. non-diegetic/underscore and 3. metadiegetic (i.e. 1. music in the film; 2. music only the audience can hear; 3. music that seems to be coming from the mind of a character in the film) method as part of the narrative itself. In this way we will investigate the way film both integrates aspects of society and also radiates messages, indeed challenges, to society, both as a mirror but also didactically—with the direct intent of creating change.

MUS 311 Unpacking Bruce Springsteen 3 Credits

This course will survey the music of Bruce Springsteen. It will 'unpack' Springsteen's musical development not only across his official career (i.e. from signing with Columbia for his first album 'Greetings from Asbury Park, New Jersey' in 1973 to the present) but also from his childhood through his youth in Freehold, NJ. By closely studying Springsteen's life, music and lyrics as well as the themes of each album the student will become an expert in understanding how The Boss was able to universalize the Jersey Shore as well as his personal concerns into vital musical messages of great value and import today. This will also involve looking at music as varied as The British Invasion (i.e. The Beatles, The Animals & the Rolling Stones et al); Motown; Country; Soul; Folk; Rock and the American Songbook.

MUS 315 Black Music in America 3 Credits

This course covers the history of music made by and/or about African Americans, from minstrel shows to hip hop and everything in between.

MUS 495 Selected Topics in Music 3 Credits

Studies specialized aspects of the literature, history, or theory of music, to supplement the established curriculum. Emphasis on creative investigative work and individual experiences in music.