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									                                     MUS 201
                            History of Country Music
                                  3 credit hours
                                      SDSU
                                   Spring 2009
                     MWF, 10-10:50 a.m., 101 Lincoln Music Hall

                              Professor Anthony Lis, DMA
                             Office: 309 Lincoln Music Hall
                              Office Hours: 2-3 pm, M-Th
                                     Phone: 688-4516
                            E-mail: Anthony_Lis@sdstate.edu

                                     Course Description
                       (from the South Dakota State University Bulletin):

“An in-depth exploration of Country Music, beginning with Scotch-Irish folk music of the late
1600s, through the “New Traditionalists” of the 1990s.”

                                  Course Prerequisites: none

Description of Instructional Methods:

This course involves class lectures/demonstrations, as well as guided listening to numerous
musical examples, drawn from the genres of southern folk music, “mainstream” country music,
and bluegrass music. (Approximately 60 of these examples have been recorded onto 4 listening
tapes [each containing 13-16 “listening tape examples”], which students will be expected to be
familiar with for each of the 4 tests [see more below]). Students will also view numerous video
segments pertaining to the history of country music, drawn—in part—from such films and
videos as:

Turner Original Productions’ three-volume set America’s Music: The Roots of Country
Rachael Liebling’s film High Lonesome: The Story of Bluegrass Music
Lightyear Entertainment’s Charley Pride: Live!
Harcourt Films’ Tex-Mex: The Music of the Texas Mexican Borderlands
Les Blank and Chris Strachwitz’s film J’ai Été au Ball: The Cajun and Zydeco Music of Louisiana

Students will also read a course outline (compiled by the instructor), and take traditional
exams.

                                     Course Requirements:

Required text:

The required text for this class is History of Country Music, an outline compiled by the
instructor of this course, which can be purchased for a modest fee at the SDSU Bookstore.
(Make sure you have the 2009 version of this outline.)

Supplementary Materials:

Listening Tapes:
Multiple copies of the four different listening tapes have been placed on reserve at the reference
desk in the Briggs Library. (These tapes are to be listened to at one of the seven “listening
stations” on the west side of the first floor of the library.)
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Class Attendance Policy:

History of Country Music is essentially a lecture course. Much of the material presented in the
course will come directly from class lectures. Your presence for this information is imperative.
Your presence for this information is imperative. To encourage your attendance at the daily
lectures, attendance will be taken 7 times on a random basis; your attendance grade will
comprise 17% of your grade for the course (see more below).

If you know you are going to be absent from a class (for any reason) please let the instructor
know ahead-of-time, so that your absence will not be counted against you. (You must notify
the instructor prior to your absence; otherwise, you will be given a zero in attendance if roll is
taken on that day.) To avoid future misunderstandings, please make sure you understand
FULLY the implications of the above paragraph!

                                  Cheating and plagiarism policy:

1. Cheating on examinations:
Cheating on examinations will not be tolerated in MUS 201. “Cheating” is exemplified by,
but not limited to, the following activities:

•   using “crib sheets”
•   taking a test with writing on the hands, fingers, or any other part of the body
•   copying answers from another student’s answer sheet
•   copying from an open book open during a test
•   talking with (or among) other students during a test

Any student caught cheating on an examination will be given a grade of “zero” for that
examination.

2. Cheating on attendance (see below):
Any student who has their signature “forged” on an attendance sheet will be given a grade
of “zero” for that day’s attendance.

Test make-up policy:
Tests are to be taken as announced and scheduled. No tests will be allowed to be made up
unless the instructor is notified, and approves of same, ahead of time. Health-related reasons
for missing a test must involve a health problem SO SERIOUS that a student has sought
treatment from the Student Health Center or a private physician. (Please bring a written
statement from the Health Center or your physician when requesting a makeup; merely calling
in sick before a test does NOT fulfill this obligation.) University-approved absences require
proper notification prior to the absence. As above, to avoid future misunderstandings, please
make sure you understand fully the implications of this paragraph!

                                            Course Goals:

This course meets the South Dakota Board of Regents’ General Education Core Goal # 4.

System Goal 4:
Humanities and Arts/Diversity

Students will understand the diversity and complexity of the human experience through study
of the arts and humanities.

This course meets Student Learning Outcomes #’s 1 and 2, as well as #’s 3, 4, and 5.
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Student Learning Outcomes:

Student Learning Outcome 1: Students will demonstrate knowledge of the diversity of values,
beliefs, and ideas embodied in the human experience.

This course relates how—at different points in its history—country music and its predecessors
(Appalachian folk music, western folk tunes, and cowboy songs) have reflected (and, in turn,
been influenced by) the values, beliefs, and ideas of different sectors of the (largely white, rural)
American population, including (but not limited to):

Poor, white (predominantly Scotch-Irish) settlers inhabiting the remote regions of pre-20th
century Appalachia, who enhanced their isolated existence by singing ballads, hymn-tunes,
and gospel songs and performing instrumental dance pieces

Cowboys in the old West, who—dealing with loneliness and the hardships of the cattle drive—
overcame their monotony by singing cowboy songs

Rural southerners who migrated out of the South before, during, and after World War II to the
“rust belt” cities of the North in search of assembly-line and defense-plant work, whose
loneliness and disillusion inspired numerous country and bluegrass songs detailing the
problems of urban life, and a longing for home

Women struggling for recognition and equality in the post-World War II era, as reflected by the
steady stream of recordings by female performers (from Kitty Wells through Martina McBride)
addressing topics such as male accountability, divorce, and birth control

Aging white, suburban “baby boomers”, dissatisfied with aging 1960s rock stars and rap music,
who find themselves facing “mid-life” crises and—consequently—relating to recent country
music recordings dealing with such topics as guns in the schools, family members with terminal
cancer, and the challenge of being a stepfather

Course objectives:
Students will identify such sectors of the population, as well as the different values, beliefs, and
ideas embodied by each sector, and the musical style(s) that originated from (or resonated
within) each sector.

Students’ knowledge of the above will be evaluated through appropriate test questions dealing
with such topics as the history of these population sectors, the unique problems faced by each
sector, the topics of songs performed by (and directed towards) each sector, the types of venues
where performers trying to reach these sectors of the population performed, contemporary
events “driving” the popularity behind a sector’s music, etc.

Student Learning Outcome 2: Students will identify and explain basic concepts of the
selected disciplines within the arts and humanities.

While no prior musical training is expected (or required) of students taking the course, over the
course of the semester, students are exposed to several basic musical concepts, particularly
timbre (the distinctive sound of a musical instrument), as well as concepts such as the beat,
“offbeats”, glissando (a “rapid slide”, as in the “whine” of the steel guitar), “walking bass”
patterns, chords, etc.

(Students are also exposed to some of the basic formal and stylistic elements of music, as
detailed under “Student Learning Outcome 5” below.)
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Course objectives:
Students will understand selected basic musical concepts, and recognize definitions of these
concepts. Students will be able to distinguish the different timbres of instruments commonly
used in folk and early country music recordings; they will also recognize applications of other
basic musical concepts in selected country music recordings.

On the listening portion of the first test, students will be asked to recognize—and differentiate
between—the timbres of the fiddle, mandolin, banjo, acoustic guitar, and string bass; the
remaining 3 tests will include multiple-choice, matching, and true-false questions concerning
various other basic musical concepts.

Student Learning Outcome 3: Students will identify and explain the contributions of other
cultures from the perspective of the selected disciplines within the arts and humanities.

The course devotes at a full class day (or more) to each of the following cultures which have
significantly influenced the white rural music of the South:

Southern African-Americans, from the antebellum era through the present day
The course outline devotes c. 2 1/2 pages to African-American influences (including 3 musical
examples and 2 video segments).

Hispanics in the Rio Grande Valley of southern Texas and northern Mexico
The outline devotes c. 2 1/2 pages to Hispanic influences (including Spanish-language
examples of Conjunto and Tejano music [translations provided], as well as 3 video
segments).

The Cajuns and Creoles of southwest Louisiana
The outline devotes c. 3 pages to Cajuns and Creoles (and their Cajun and Zydeco music
[including 3 musical examples sung in Cajun French, with translations], as well as 2 video
segments).

Course objectives:
Students will identify the influences of African-Americans upon the white rural music of the
South, and recognize the importance of selected African-American country music performers.

Students will also know basic historical and demographical information concerning Hispanics,
Cajuns, and Creoles in America, as well as the histories of Conjunto, Tejano, Cajun, and Zydeco
music. Students will also recognize the importance of selected Hispanic, Cajun, and Creole
performers, and be able to aurally identify (and differentiate between) the above styles.

Students’ knowledge of the above information will be assessed through appropriate test
questions (e.g., “matching” questions where students match statements describing
Conjunto/Tejano/Cajun/Zydeco music with the correct style, multiple-choice questions
regarding the history of these styles, the importance of various performers, etc.). The listening
portion of the last test contains 4 questions where students are asked to determine whether a
short excerpt represents Conjunto music, Tejano music, Cajun music, or Zydeco.
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Student Learning Outcome 4: Students will demonstrate creative and aesthetic understanding.

re: developing creative understanding:

Carefully-selected video segments provide students with insight into the creative process.
Whenever possible, segments referring to our listening tape examples are shown. These
segments frequently feature old footage of performances of these examples (taken from early
“short subjects” and newsreels,”singing cowboy” movies, television appearances, live concert
performances, etc.). Other segments show the performers themselves (or their backup musicians)
talking about what inspired a specific recording, producers or record company executives
providing “anecdotes” about recording sessions and/or offering explanations of the reason(s) for
a recording’s popularity, etc.

re: developing aesthetic understanding:

Normally, 2-4 recordings (representing whichever particular sub-style of country music we are
studying) are played several times during each class period. Approximately 60 of these recordings
(arguably “classics” of each sub-style) have been recorded onto the listening tapes which
students familiarize themselves with for each of the tests (ensuring that students receive
repeated exposure to these seminal recordings).

The class outline includes short quotes explaining the importance of many of the listening tape
examples, drawn from the writings of respected country/folk music scholars such as Bill C.
Malone, John Morthand, Charles K. Wolfe, and Mary A. Bufwak.

Course Objectives:
By semester’s end—after repeatedly hearing (and hearing and reading about) c. 60 “classics” of
southern folk music, country music, and bluegrass (and absorbing the information in the
Listening Tape Guides and video segments)—it is hoped that students will have begun to
develop a heightened sensitivity to musical creativity and a deeper understanding of musical
aesthetics.

Evaluating a student’s understanding of creativity and—especially—aesthetics is extremely
difficult. Critics (and consumers) cannot agree on what makes a recording “great”, nor can they
settle on a definitive ordering of the “best” recordings in a style (if such an ordering is possible),
as evidenced by the endless stream of books such as Country Music Television’s 100 Greatest
Country Songs, Stories Behind Country Music’s All-Time Greatest 100 Songs, etc. It is the
instructor’s hope/expectation that by the end of the course, students will have begun to
develop a vocabulary of musical terms and concepts that will enable them to them more-exactly
express why they do (or do not) like a particular recording, recording artist, etc.

Student Learning Outcome 5: Students will explain and interpret formal and stylistic
elements of the literary or fine arts.

re: explaining and interpreting formal elements of the fine arts:

Over the course of the semester, students will be exposed to several musical forms commonly
utilized in folk songs, hymn tunes, and country music recordings (i.e., “narrative ballad form”,
strophic form, strophic with chorus form, the “head-solos-head” format, and the 12-bar blues.

Course objectives:
Students will recognize the major formal divisions in selected folk, country, and bluegrass
recordings, as well as the specific form exhibited on these recordings; students will also
recognize descriptions of these forms.
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On the tests, students will be asked to recognize definitions and/or descriptions of these forms;
students will also answer questions concerning which specific form is represented by various
listening tape examples.

Acquiring familiarity with these forms is yet another strategy that students can utilize when
attempting to identify listening tape examples on the tests . . . knowing (and hearing) that—for
example—Marty Robbins’s “El Paso” is in the “narrative ballad form” (with the same music
repeated over and over, with different words, to relate a gripping story) would help a student
correctly identify that recording.

re: explaining and interpreting stylistic elements of the fine arts:

Helping students to differentiate between the different sub-styles within the genre of country
music is an important objective of this course. By reading the background information in the
outline, listening repeatedly to the listening tape examples, and apprehending the in-class
demonstrations, students will learn to explain and interpret the differences between these
various sub-styles.

Course objectives:
Students will recognize, differentiate, and contrast the various sub-styles of country music (e.g.,
“western swing”, “The Bakersfield Sound”, “The Nashville Sound”, “country/rock”, etc.).

Pertinent test questions will assess students’ recall of the “on-paper” characteristics of (and
differences between) these various sub-styles. (e.g., on the last 3 tests, students will—among
other things—be asked to match statements describing different country music sub-styles with
the correct sub-style).

Acquiring an awareness of the differences between these various sub-styles will also help
students identify listening tape examples . . . knowing (and hearing) that—for example—Hank
Thompson’s “The Wild Side of Life” (our “honky-tonk” example) features—characteristically—a
man lamenting his wife’s infidelity, to the accompaniment of the fiddle and steel guitar—would
help a student correctly identify that recording.

This course also meets SDSU’s Institutional Graduation Requirement Goal #3.

IGR Goal 3:
Social Responsibility /Cultural and Aesthetic Awareness

Students will demonstrate social responsibility or cultural and aesthetic awareness to
foster individual responsibility and creativity.

This course meets Student Learning Outcomes #’’s 1 and 2 (under Option 2, Cultural and
Aesthetic Awareness)

Student Learning Outcomes:

Student Learning Outcome 1: Students will demonstrate an appreciation of the
different ways in which people express their understanding of the human condition.

As related under BOR System Goal 4/Student Learning Outcome 1 above, many country music
recordings have reflected (and been influenced by) the values, beliefs, and problems faced by
various sectors of the southern, white, rural population (country music’s traditional “core
audience”). In addition to the sectors mentioned above, other such sectors examined in the
course include:
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Rural Southerners and Appalachians who remained in their region during and after World War
II, clinging to the “old ways” and their fundamentalist religion in the face of outmigration and
modernization, whose attitude was reflected in the many bluegrass recordings of this time
period glorifying rural life and paying homage to the ”old home and family” (as well as the many
bluegrass remakes of old gospel tunes)

Disenfranchised white southern teenagers of the Eisenhower era, who—rejecting the music
(and mores) of their parents’ generation—were attracted to the exuberance and excitement of
black rhythm-and-blues (as exemplified by the rockabilly-style recordings of performers such as
Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, and Wanda Jackson)

Disenfranchised youths of the 1960s and 1970s who embraced the mix of “countercultural” and
mainstream rock influences present in the Los-Angeles-based country/rock of the late 1960s-
70s, and the songs of the Austin-based “Outlaw” movement of the mid-late 1970s.

Course objectives:
The course identifies such sectors of the population, their unique values, beliefs, and ideas, the
problems they faced, and the musical style(s) that each sector produced and/or embraced.

Students’ knowledge of the above will be evaluated through appropriate test questions dealing
with the history of these sectors, the unique problems each sector faced, the topics of songs
performed by each sector, the types of venues where performers reached members of these
sectors, etc.

Student Learning Outcome 2: Students will understand their responsibilities and
choices as related to spatial and temporal contexts.

The course attempts, where possible, to help students understand their responsibilities to
society-at-large (and thus help foster a sense of individual responsibility) by highlighting songs
from country music’s history which have addressed the problems faced by various
“disenfranchised” segments of the American population, including:

Abused women (as reflected in such songs as the old English/Appalachian Mountain “murder
ballad” “Pretty Polly”, the Dixie Chicks’ “Goodbye Earle” and Martina McBride’s “Independence
Day”)

Poor southern Appalachians (as reflected in songs such as Dolly Parton’s “Coat of Many Colors”
and Charley Pride’s “Crystal Chandeliers”)

Poor migrant farmworkers (including Hispanic migrant farmworkers) and migrant factory
workers (as reflected in songs such as Buck Owens/Dwight Yoakam”s “Streets of Bakersfield”,
Merle Haggard’s “Hungry Eyes”, and Bobby Bare’s “Detroit City”)

An understanding of social responsibility and individual responsibility is particularly
emphasized on the last two sections of the course (which cover country music from the late
1970s to the present day). Students are made aware of the fact that many recent country music
recordings (particularly those by female performers) have begun to address such previously-
”taboo” subjects as domestic violence, AIDS, alcoholism, etc.) Songs played and discussed in
this segment of the course include:

Mary Chapin Carpenter’s “He Thinks He’ll Keep Her” (1994)
(about a woman working up the courage to leave her dead-end marriage, then adjusting to life
in a minimum wage-paying job)

Reba McIntyre’s “She Thinks His Name Was John” (1994)
(about a female AIDS victim [and the age-old “double standard” regarding sexual activity])
                                                   8
Martina McBride’s “Independence Day” (1994)
(about a battered wife’s revenge, recorded in the wake of the first O.J. Simpson trial)

The final section of the course outline (covering country music from the 1990s to the present)
contains lists of country songs dealing with the following contemporary issues:

Male performers addressing the problems caused by alcohol and alcoholism
(including songs by Colin Raye, Kenney Chesney, Alan Jackson, etc.)

Female performers addressing such topics as sexual equality, sexual harassment, and domestic
violence
(including songs by Shania Twain, Linda Davis, Terri Clark, etc.)

Male and female performers challenging traditionally-conservative positions on sexual
preference, political affiliation, religious affiliation, and racial tolerance
 (including songs by Shania Twain, Garth Brooks, The Pirates of the Mississippi, etc.)

Course objectives:
Students’ knowledge of the above will be evaluated through appropriate test questions dealing
with these songs (and the topics they address) on each of the class tests. In addition, a good
number of these recordings are included on the class listening tapes, so students will be
expected to aurally recognize many of these songs, as well.

It is hoped that by being made aware of these various songs (and the issues they address) that
students will begin to exhibit an increased awareness of their social and individual
responsibility to humankind.

                                      Evaluation Procedures:

Assessments:
Your MUS 201 grade will be determined by your scores on four 100-point tests, as well as your
attendance grade (see above).

About the Tests:
The tests—which will be based on information from the course outline, the class lectures, video
segments shown in class, and the listening tapes—will be comprised of multiple choice,
matching, and true/false items. Each test will also include c. one dozen “listening questions”,
in which students will be asked to recognize examples on the listening tapes.

All students, including seniors, will take all 4 tests.

The last test will not be comprehensive; it will be given as scheduled on FRIDAY of Finals Week
(5-8-09), from 9:00-10:40 a.m. in LMH 101 (same room as the class). (PLEASE NOTE THIS
RELATIVELY “LATE” FINALS TIME; NO EARLY FINALS WILL BE GIVEN.)

Performance standards/grading policy:
Your course grade will be determined according to the following percentages:
Test average grade (from 4 tests [see above]) = 83%
Attendance grade (see above) = 17%

Each of these items will use the following scale:
   100-90 = A
   89-80 = B
   79-70 = C
   69-60 = D
   59-01 = F
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At the end of the semester, the individual percentages will be considered collectively by category;
your various grades (the average of your test grades and your attendance grade) will be averaged
together to determine your composite grade for the course. You are strongly urged to keep track
of your grades as the semester unfolds so you will know exactly where you stand.

                               Freedom in Learning Statement:

Students are responsible for learning the content of any course of study in which they are
enrolled. Under Board of Regents and University policy, student academic performance shall be
evaluated solely on an academic basis and students should be free to take reasoned exception
to the data or views offered in any course of study. Students who believe that an academic
evaluation is unrelated to academic standards but is related instead to judgement of their
personal opinion or conduct should first contact the instructor of the course. If the student
remains unsatisfied, the student may contact the department head and/or dean of the college
which offers the class to initiate a review of the evaluation.

                                        ADA Statement:

Notice for Students With Disabilities:
If you are a person with a disability and anticipate needing any type of accommodation in order
to participate in this class, please inform me and make the appropriate arrangements with the
Office of Disability Services (ODS), located in 145 Binnewies Hall. To schedule an appointment,
call (605) 688-4504 and request to speak with Nancy Hartenhoff-Crooks, the Coordinator of
Disability Services.

                                        If you need help:

Please do not hesitate to contact me if you need extra assistance. I love country music, and I’m
here to help you if you need it. Just call 688-4516; if I’m not there, leave a message with the
music department secretary (688-5187), along with your phone number, and I’ll get back to you.
Extra time and help will gladly be given. Again, welcome, and good luck.

								
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