The Golden Age of American Popular Song
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Division: The New School for Public Engagement
School: School of Undergraduate Studies
Course Number: NMUS 3562
Course Format: Lecture
Location: NYC campus
Permission Required: No
- Music History, Theory & Criticism
The great American popular composers of the 20th century (Irving Berlin, Jerome Kern, Cole Porter, George Gershwin, Richard Rodgers, Harold Arlen), along with outstanding lyricists such as Lorenz Hart, Ira Gershwin, Johnny Mercer, and Dorothy Fields, produced a body of songs that are still thrilling to hear and fully deserving of the label "classics." This course examines the music of the most fertile period in American song, roughly 1920-1960, and the cultural context from which it emerged. This was a time when popular music and "good" music overlapped--when Broadway, jazz, Hollywood, and Tin Pan Alley intermingled and influenced one another. It was also the period when the modern urban lifestyle came into being, when crosscurrents from different social classes and ethnicities sparked a wave of creativity unique in American cultural history. Lectures and discussions are supplemented by recordings, videos, guest speakers, and performers. When possible, class excursions to concerts and cabarets are arranged.