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MUS 177 — Iconic Pop Songs: Exploring the Basic Elements of Music

Quarter: Winter
Day(s): Tuesdays
Course Format: Live Online (About Formats)
Duration: 6 weeks
Date(s): Feb 7—Mar 14
Time: 7:00—8:50 pm (PT)
Refund Deadline: Feb 9
Unit: 1
Tuition: $385
Instructor(s): Lisa Sanchez
Class Recording Available: Yes
Status: Open
DOWNLOAD THE SYLLABUS » (subject to change)
Live Online(About Formats)
7:00—8:50 pm (PT)
Feb 7—Mar 14
6 weeks
Refund Date
Feb 9
1 Unit
Lisa Sanchez
DOWNLOAD THE SYLLABUS » (subject to change)
Have you ever wondered what makes the best pop songs sound so iconic or universal? While musical theory can at first sound mystifying or abstract, once understood, it can help illuminate the artistry and strategy behind the best songwriting. In this course, we will learn about the basic building blocks of music by analyzing songs we all know and love. Drawing from folk, blues, rock, and jazz traditions, we will look closely at such iconic hits as “House of the Rising Sun” (The Animals), “Stormy Monday” (T-Bone Walker), “Norwegian Wood” (The Beatles), and “Take Five” (Dave Brubeck). In these songs and others, we will identify elements such as scales, modes, keys, chord progressions, rhythms, and song forms, and we will examine how these elements fit together to create a beloved piece of music. We will also discuss how these musical traditions have influenced one another. The course will rely on recorded examples along with visual presentations and live musical demonstrations.

The course welcomes music listeners and songwriters alike. The ability to read music is not required. You need only the desire to understand what goes into making great music.

Instructor, Gryphon Stringed Instruments

Lisa Sanchez has taught basic music and guitar at SF State. She studied jazz guitar with Warren Nunes and voice with jazz vocalist Mark Murphy. Sanchez has extensive professional experience as a vocalist and a freelance jazz and pop guitarist. She performs regularly, and her latest album is Lisa Sanchez/Jon Eriksen Quartet.

Textbooks for this course:

There are no required textbooks; however, some fee-based online readings may be assigned.