MUSV3110 - From R&B to Rap: African American Popular Music, 1955-1980


Lessons are not given in the academic year 2020/2021

Course content

Through lectures, in-class discussions, and assigned readings, listening, and video viewing, this seminar will examine African American popular music from the 1950s to the late 1970s. This period includes both the Civil Rights and Black Power years, and extends from postwar R&B and gospel, to soul, soul jazz, funk, disco, and early rap. In exploring this still-influential repertory of African American popular music, we will study questions and assumptions about the interrelationships between race, musical aesthetics and values, culture, politics, and society, and how this era of African American culture and this rich body of music has continued to shape Euro-American popular music and popular culture to the present day. The course will critically explore issues around definitions of African American music and “black” musical aesthetics, as well as related discourses of authenticity, representation, cultural ownership, and appropriation.

Learning outcome

A candidate who successfully completes MUSV3110 will have
- Have an increased historical appreciation for the creative processes in, and debates surrounding, the culture and legacy of African American popular music, 1955-1980
- Have knowledge of both key issues in, as well as historical- and thematic-based knowledge of, African American popular music
- Have specialized knowledge of the critical theory and discourses around African American popular music

A candidate who successfully completes MUSV3110
- can formulate their knowledge in a compelling manner in both written and spoken forms
- has gained specialized knowledge of mediation theories and criticism related to African American popular music

General competence :
A candidate with a completed qualification in MUSV3110 will
- Have a clear understanding of the discourses and history of African American popular music, 1955-1980

Learning methods and activities

Lectures and in-class discussion

Mandatory activities

This class is structured as a seminar with discussion sessions and lectures being the central parts of each class. The respective reading, listening, and video viewing assignments for each class will function as the basic materials from which we will build our seminar discussions. Weekly coursework includes: select readings; listening and viewing assignments related to readings; and in-class discussion of these assigned materials.

NOTE: Because this is a discussion-oriented seminar, all weekly assigned readings MUST be dutifully read before each weeks class, as in-class discussion participation is a vital part of the pedagogical methods of the course.

Over the course of the semester, each student will also be required to prepare one short presentation on specific subjects/music in a given class's assigned readings.

Assessment: The portfolio assessment will be graded as follows

10% in-class presentation (and formal written summary) on a given week’s assignments
40% written assignment-response postings, with weekly deadlines before class
50% written examination, 6 hours

Compulsory assignments

  • Short weekly assignment-response postings (in English or Norwegian)
  • One short in-class presentation (and written summary) on a given week’s assignments

Specific conditions

Exam registration requires that class registration is approved in the same semester. Compulsory activities from previous semester may be approved by the department.

Admission to a programme of study is required:
Music Performance (MMUSP)
Music Performance Studies (BMUSK)
Music Performance Studies (BMUSP)
Music Technology (BMUST)
Music Technology (MMUST)
Musicology (BMUSV)
Musicology (MMUSV)

Required previous knowledge

Requires admission to one of the Bachelor's programmes or Master's programmes in Musicology, Music Technology or Music Performance.

More on the course



Version: 1
Credits:  7.5 SP
Study level: Second degree level



Language of instruction: English

Location: Trondheim

Subject area(s)
  • Music History
  • Musicology
Contact information

Department with academic responsibility
Department of Music



  • * The location (room) for a written examination is published 3 days before examination date. If more than one room is listed, you will find your room at Studentweb.

For more information regarding registration for examination and examination procedures, see "Innsida - Exams"

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