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Looking at the Contents in AmPopMusic Study Units

AmPopMusic is divided into nine separate “Study Units”: eight units centering on the birth and history of musical genres pivotal in American musical culture, and one “preparatory” unit – “Understanding Music”. 

Though many students enter the study with some previous musical background, for those who are unfamiliar with concepts such as “pitch”, “harmony”, “instrumentation”, “structure”, or “tempo”, this first AmPopMusic Study Unit can be incredibly helpful to get a grasp on the concepts and terminology common to all music – certainly those permeating American culture.

While any of the other eight Study Units in AmPopMusic can be studied independent of one another, and technically in any order chosen by a teacher, there is benefit to follow the “19th Century” through “Rap & Hip-Hop” – Study Units #2 through #8 in a specific order. 

Each of the Study Units in AmPopMusic contains reading chapters, audio playdecks, video examples, study questions, and quizzes specifically organized in chronological historic order.

AmPopMusic Study Unit Thumbnails

AmPopMusic Study Units

    • What is pitch?
    • What is rhythm (pulse)?
    • What is volume?
    • What is tone?
    • What is melody?
    • What is counter-melody?
    • What is harmony?
    • What is bass?
    • What is rhythm?
    • Comparing the 5 layers in different styles of music
    • What is structure?
    • What is instrumentation?
    • Listening to the instruments
    • What is tempo?
  • 19th Century American Popular, Classical and Folk Music
  • Stephen Foster: Father of American Popular Music
  • Scott Joplin: King of Ragtime
  • John Philip Sousa: Moving Into the Modern Era – Marches & Copyright Law
  • John Lomax: Recording the Roots
  • Woody Guthrie: Father of American Folk Music
  • Leadbelly & Pete Seeger: End of the First Wave
  • The Kingston Trio: Buying Back America’s Trust
  • Joan Baez: First Lady of American Folk Music
  • Peter, Paul & Mary: Balancing the Message
  • Bob Dylan: The Prophet Who Left His People
  • Conclusion: Folk Music Redefined for Today
  • Hillbilly to Early Country: Backwoods to the Radio
  • Cowboys & Western Swing
  • Honky-tonk & Bluegrass
  • Rockabilly & the Nashville Sound
  • Country Feminists Find Their Voice
  • Bakersfield & Austin “Outlaw”: Electric Guitar & a Beat
  • Neo-Traditionalists & Contemporary Country
  • Country & Western Music in the 21st Century
  • What makes it “Jazz”?
  • Beginnings: Before it was “Jass”
  • New Orleans: Jazz is Born!
  • Early Jazz Musicians
  • Louis Armstrong: “Father of Modern Jazz”
  • Chicago: Jazz Hub of the 1920’s
  • Big Band: Jazz Swings!
  • Big Band Musicians & Singers
  • Jump & Bop: Jazz Radical
  • Cool Jazz: Complex & Aloof
  • Hard Bop: Here We Bop Again!
  • Free Jazz: Breaking the Rules
  • Fusion: The “Jazz-Rock-Funk” Experience
  • Third Stream and World Jazz
  • New Age and Smooth Jazz
  • Summary: Jazz Lives!
  • Introduction: Grand-daddy Blues
  • Where Did the Blues Come From?
  • What are the Blues?
  • How to Build the Blues
  • Delta & Classic Blues: The Early Years
  • Blues in the City: The Middle Years
  • British Blues: The Renaissance
  • Contemporary Blues: Maturity and Respect
  • Conclusion: The Relevancy of the Blues Today

The 1950’s

  • Starting Points: Timelines, Cultures, Styles & Technology
  • Pre-Rock: Influences from Jazz, Blues, Country & Gospel
  • Rock is Born: Renegades of a New Sound
  • The New Sound is Named: “Rock ‘n’ Roll”
  • Doo-Wop: From the Streets to the Studio
  • The Commercialization of Rock ‘n’ Roll


The 1960’s

  • Crafting Rock ‘n’ Roll in the Studio: Producers & Hit Songs
  • West Coast Sound: Beach, Surf & Teens
  • Two Prongs of the British Invasion: Pop-Rock & Blues-Rock
  • Motown: Developing the Black Pop-Rock Sound
  • Soul: Gospel and R&B in the Deep South
  • Bubble-Gum Rock: The Sounds of Teenybopper Pop-Rock
  • Folk-Rock of the Mid-1960’s
  • Psychedelic Rock: Soundtrack for the Drug Trip
  • Guitar Legends of ‘60’s Rock
  • The ‘60’s Rock Festivals
  • Anti-Woodstock & Shock-Rock Movements


The 1970’s

  • Country-Rock & Southern Rock: Updated Roots Music
  • Jazz-Rock & Rock-Jazz
  • Art-Rock: Rising Above Commercialism
  • Glam-Rock: Costumes, Make-up & Androgynes
  • Heavy Metal and Hard Rock of the ‘70’s and ‘80’s
  • Singer-Songwriters: Rock Minimized
  • Soft Rock: ‘70’s Rock Commercialized
  • Funk: Rock With An Updated Groove
  • Disco: Dancing Beats and Mirror Balls
  • Punk: Three Chords and An Attitude
  • Technological Breakthroughs
  • Electronic Dance Music
  • Hip-hop & Rap: An Introduction
  • Old School Rap: Characteristics and Pioneers
  • Rap’s Golden Age: Characteristics and Pioneers
  • East Coast – Political Rap: Characteristics & Pioneers
  • West Coast – Gangsta Rap: Characteristics & Pioneers
  • Pop and Party Rap: Characteristics and Pioneers
  • Alternative and Jazz-Rap: Characteristics and Pioneers
  • The Importance of Rap
  • Musical Stage Productions in the 18th Century America
  • Minstrel Shows and Melodramas
  • 19th Century: Extravaganzas, Spectacles, Burlesque, and Vaudeville
  • Early 20th Century: Revues and Operettas
  • The Arrival of the Modern American Musical
  • Partnerships in Book-Musicals
  • Musical Theatre in the jmid-20th Century
  • Fresh Voices on the Stage in the 1960s
  • Two Dominant Forces at the end of the 20th Century
  • New Voices at the end of the 20th Century
  • New Sounds, New Ideas, New Century
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    Study Units

    An Overview

    Ch. 1: Understanding Pitch

    Ch. 2: Understanding Musical Pulse

    Ch. 3: Understanding Volume

    Ch. 4: Understanding Tone

    Ch. 5: Understanding Melody

    Ch. 6: Understanding Harmony

    Ch. 7: Understanding Rhythm

    Ch. 8: Understanding Bass

    Ch. 9: Understanding Countermelody

    Ch. 10: Understanding Structure

    Ch. 11: Understanding Instrumentation

    Ch. 12: Understanding Tempo

    An Overview

    Ch. 1: 19th Century: Pre-Foster

    Ch. 2: Folk Music by the People

    Ch. 3: Popular Music in its Infancy

    Ch. 4: Stephen Foster – “Father of American Popular Music”

    Ch. 5: The Importance of Stephen Foster

    Ch. 6: Scott Joplin – “King of Ragtime”

    Ch. 7: The Player Piano – Automated Music

    Ch. 8: John Philip Sousa – “The March King”

    Ch. 9: John Philip Sousa – Recording Artist and Activist

    An Overview

    Ch. 1: John Lomax – Recording American Roots Music

    Ch. 2: Woody Guthrie – “Father of Modern American Folk Music”

    Ch. 3: Leadbelly & Pete Seeger: End of the First Wave

    Ch. 4: The Kingston Trio – Beginning of the Second Wave

    Ch. 5: Joan Baez – “First Lady of Folk Music”

    Ch. 6: Peter, Paul & Mary – Balancing the Message

    Ch. 7: Robert Zimmerman – The Beginning of an American Icon

    Ch. 8: Dylan in New York City

    Ch. 9: Dylan after Newport

    Ch. 10: The Importance of Dylan

    Ch. 11: Folk Music in the 21st Century

    An Overview

    Ch. 1: The Roots of Country

    Ch. 2: Bristol Beginnings

    Ch. 3: The Grand Ole Opry

    Ch. 4: Cowboys and the Movies

    Ch. 5: Western Swing

    Ch. 6: Bluegrass: Hillbilly on Caffeine

    Ch. 7: Honky-tonk: Merging Two into One

    Ch. 8: The Nashville Sound: Country-Pop

    Ch. 9: Rockabilly – Country meets R&B

    Ch. 10: Country Feminists Find Their Voice

    Ch. 11: The Bakersfield Sound

    Ch. 12: Austin “Outlaw” Country

    Ch. 13: Neo-Traditionalists at the end of the 20th Century

    Ch. 14: Mainstreaming Country in the ‘90s

    Ch. 15: Redesigning Country in the 21st Century

    An Overview

    Ch. 1: What is Jazz?

    Ch. 2: Before It Was Jazz

    Ch. 3: Jazz is Born!

    Ch. 4: Early Jazz Musicians

    Ch. 5: Louis Armstrong

    Ch. 6: Chicago and Harlem – Hub of 1920s Jazz

    Ch. 7: Big Band – Jazz Swing!

    Ch. 8: Big Band Musicians and Singers

    Ch. 9: Jump Blues and Bop

    Ch. 10: Cool Jazz

    Ch. 11: Hard Bop

    Ch. 12: Free Jazz – Breaking the Rules

    Ch. 13: Fusion – The Jazz-Rock-Funk Experience

    Ch. 14: Third Stream and World Jazz

    Ch. 15: New Age & Smooth Jazz

    Ch. 16: Summary – Jazz Lives!

    An Overview

    Ch. 1: Blues – The Granddaddy of American Popular Music

    Ch. 2: Where Did the Blues Come From?

    Ch. 3: What Are the Blues?

    Ch. 4: How to Build the Blues

    Ch. 5: Classic Blues – The Early Years

    Ch. 6: Delta Blues – Authentic Beginnings

    Ch. 7: Blues in the City – Migration and Power

    Ch. 8: Blues in Britain – Redefining the Masters

    Ch. 9: Contemporary Blues – Maturity and Respect

    Ch. 10: The Relevancy of the Blues Today

    Ch. 1: Timelines, Cultures & Technology

    Ch. 2: Pre-Rock Influences

    Ch. 3: Rock is Born!

    Ch. 4: Rock is Named

    Ch. 5: Doo-Wop

    Ch. 6: Independent Record Labels

    Ch. 7: Technology Shapes Rock ‘n’ Roll

    Ch. 8: The Plan to Mainstream Rock ‘n’ Roll

    Ch. 9: Payola – Rock ‘n’ Roll’s First Scandal

    Ch. 1: Crafting Sound in the Studio/Producers and Hit Songs

    Ch. 2: West Coast Sound: Beach, Surf, and Teens

    Ch. 3: The British Invasion: Two Prongs – Pop & Blues

    Ch. 4: Motown and the Development of a Black Pop-Rock Sound

    Ch. 5: Soul Music: Gospel and R&B in the Deep South

    Ch. 6: The Sounds of Bubble Gum Pop-Rock

    Ch. 7: The Arrival of Folk-Rock

    Ch. 8: Psychedelic Rock ‘n’ Roll

    Ch. 9: Early Guitar Gods of Rock

    Ch. 10: Rock Festivals: The Rise and Fall of Music, Peace, and Love

    Ch. 11: Anti-Woodstock and Shock Rock Movements

    Ch. 1: Technological Breakthroughs

    Ch. 2: Electronic Dance Music

    Ch. 3: Hip-Hop & Rap – An Introduction

    Ch. 4: The Beginnings of Rap

    Ch. 5: Old School Rap – Up From the Streets

    Ch. 6: Rap’s Golden Age

    Ch. 7: East Coast – Political Rap

    Ch. 8: West Coast – Gangsta Rap

    Ch. 9: The Fragmentation of Rap – Pop, Party & More

    Ch. 10: Further Fragmentation – Different Directions

    Ch. 11: The Importance of Rap

    Ch. 1: Musical Stage Productions in America before the 1800s

    Ch. 2: Minstrel Shows and Melodramas

    Ch. 3: Stage Presentations in the Late 19th Century

    Ch. 4: Early 20th Century: Revues and Operettas

    Ch. 5: The Arrival of the Modern American Musical

    Ch. 6: Great Partnerships in Book-Musicals

    Ch. 7: Musical Theatre Composers in the mid-Century

    Ch. 8: Fresh Voices on the Stage in the 1960s

    Ch. 9: Two Dominant Forces at the End of the Century

    Ch. 10: New Voices at the End of the Century

    Ch. 11: New Voices, New Sounds in the New Century

    Ch. 12: Musical Theatre Glossary

    Ch. 13: Is it “Theatre” or “Theater”?

    Study Units also have “Playdecks” – containing hundreds of chronologically organized audio examples of music in the study units, and “Study Qs” for unit chapters.