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Popular Music: Soundtrack of a Western Culture



Popular music is everywhere, in many different forms and genres. Varying from simple (four-chord) hitsongs to game changing activists’ anthems, popular music has provided us with a soundtrack that is strongly intertwined with modern society.

But there is more to the music than meets the ear. Many perspectives, ideologies and institutions have left their mark in the music and its history. Rooted in a strong industry, influenced by fast technological developments and embedded in youth- and subcultures, popular music is an exciting field.

This course is an introduction to the history, function and dynamics of popular music in the period from the 1950’s until now. It addresses the music, the industry and its impact on society, disclosing the key issues of the field.

Course objectives

The aim of this course is to gain insight into the development, practice and social value of popular music. Students are encouraged to be informed listeners that are able to link songs, artists and musical practice to theoretical perspectives; to formulate what function and value a popsong can have and to whom.

Timetable and location

Semester 2, 2015-2016

Monday evenings from 19.45 to 21.45 hrs.

First meeting: Monday 15 February 2016
Last meeting: Monday 9 May 2016

Please note: The meeting on Monday 22 February 2016 is in a different room: Lipsius 028!
Please note (2): No meeting on Monday 28 March 2016!

Location: Lipsius 227.

Mode of instruction


Assessment method

A presentation and an essay (3,000 word minimum)




Required: – Required material will be made available on Blackboard

Recommended: – Keunen, G. Pop! Een halve eeuw beweging. Lannoo Uitgeverij, 2002 – Shuker, R. Understanding popular music culture. Londen: Routledge, 2012


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