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MUS 32 — Why Soul Music Matters

Quarter: Summer
Day(s): Wednesdays
Course Format: Live Online (About Formats)
Duration: 10 weeks
Date(s): Jun 22—Aug 24
Time: 5:00—6:50 pm (PT)
Refund Deadline: Jun 24
Units: 2
Grade Restriction: No letter grade
Tuition: $410
Instructor(s): Charles Kronengold
Class Recording Available: Yes
Status: Open
Live Online(About Formats)
5:00—6:50 pm (PT)
Jun 22—Aug 24
10 weeks
Refund Date
Jun 24
2 Units
Grade Restriction
No letter grade
Charles Kronengold
What was soul music? How did soul become the umbrella term for Black popular music in the late 1960s, and what happened when it did? What did soul music do for its '60s and '70s listeners, and what can it teach us now?

The music called soul emerged from rhythm and blues, gospel, and jazz in the 1950s and became the dominant strand of Black popular music by the end of the '60s; it defined an era that ended in the early '80s. This course will ask how and why soul matters. We will explore the African American tradition of soul music from its origins. Along the way, we will examine genres and styles like Motown, funk, gospel, Southern soul, Philadelphia soul, and disco; artists like Aretha Franklin, Marvin Gaye, Curtis Mayfield, Nina Simone, Chaka Khan, Ashford & Simpson, Earth, Wind & Fire, and Parliament-Funkadelic; and the musical cultures of cities like New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles.

Our discussions will consider soul’s musical characteristics; its aesthetic and cultural meanings; and its interaction with race and racism, politics, gender, place, technology, and the economy. We’ll ask how this Black American music has helped shape American culture as a whole. This means listening, looking, and reading closely, learning new ways to talk about music, and grappling with the ideas, social meanings, and rhetorical strategies of soul music and of the discourses around it: thinking about how and why this music has mattered.

Stanford Continuing Studies has lowered the tuition for this course as part of our mission to increase access to education around diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Assistant Professor, Department of Music, Stanford

Charles Kronengold writes and teaches about 20th-century music, film, and aesthetics. He is the author of Living Genres in Late Modernity: American Music of the Long 1970s and, with Adrian Daub, The James Bond Songs: Pop Anthems of Late Capitalism. His just-finished second monograph, Crediting Thinking in Soul and Dance Music, concerns the ways that ’60s and ’70s soul depicted, embodied, and helped transform the activity of thinking.