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Popular and Global Music

Vak 2017-2018


With the transnational opening of the media market in the 1950s, the popular song made in the US and the UK reached new audiences on an unprecedented international scale. Figures such as Elvis, Little Richard and Billy Haley became icons of an emerging global space of interaction. The rest is history: the British invasion, punk and disco, pop and grunge, rap and EDM. Popular music came to stay. But is this ‘global’ dimension of popular music all there is to it?

From the Latin 'popularis', ‘popular’ means ‘prevalent among the people’, definition from whence its meaning as ‘widely supported’ derives in the first place. If that is right, then countless musical practices from every corner of the world (considered one’s own and that of others) should be labeled popular too. In addition, most of such traditions are engaged in the global space of interaction, significantly so in terms of marketing and distribution, which adds to the complexity of today’s musical picture.

In this course, the students explore the tension between the definitions of ‘popular’ and ‘global’ by examining a number of musical materials with an eye to formal features and socio-musical practices. Said materials include (but are not limited to) diverse styles of rock, pop and R&B as well as traditions from the Balkans, South America, East Asia, the Middle East and South Africa.

Course objectives

Upon completion of this course, students will:
• Understand the complexities surrounding ‘popular’ and ‘global’ as categories of musical experience.
• Gain introductory-level familiarity with the repertoires and practices that such headings stand for.
• Develop basic skills to analyse and critically appreciate diverse musical materials in a global context.
• Understand their own personal narratives of musical experience in light of broader narratives (e.g. cultural, subcultural, regional and national)

Time table:

2017-2018, Second semester

The courses take place at the PJ Veth Building (Nonnensteeg 3, 2311 VJ Leiden), room 0.06, Mondays from 10.00-12.00 hrs.

First meeting: 12 February 2018
Last meeting: 23 April 2018
Exam/test: 30 April 2018

PLEASE NOTE: There will not be a meeting on 19 March 2018 and 2 April 2018!

Teaching method:

Lectures and workshops

Test method:

Assessment will be made on the basis of:
1. Examination of the assigned literature and information given in the lectures
2. Attendance (at least 5 sessions – will be checked by means of an attendance list)
3. Homework assignments based on the listening to music examples
4. Final exam



Required reading:

Compulsory: – Articles, to be disseminated via Blackboard and read in advance to every lecture; – Handouts

Recommended: – Philip V. Bohlman, World Music: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002. – Simon Broughton & Mark Ellingham (eds.), The rough guide to world music. London and New York: Rough Guides, 2000. 2 vols – Nicholas Cook, Music: a very short introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998, reprint 2000.

Other literature to be announced.


Dhr. ir. R.T.W.L. Schneemann
Dhr. dr. C.M. Roos Muñoz


Register for this course via uSis.

For other courses in the domains of music and fine arts, please visit:
Elective courses music and fine arts