Survey of Commercial Music Literature – CMUS 213

CG • Section 8WK • 07/01/2018 to 12/31/2199 • Modified 05/03/2022

Course Description

A survey of popular and jazz music writers, influences, and trends. Emphasis is placed on a general overview of personalities and their unique influences within each of these genres.

For information regarding prerequisites for this course, please refer to the Academic Course Catalog.


CMUS 213 is a survey of significant popular and jazz musicians, genres, and works. Students will observe how commercial music continues to be shaped by sounds and cultural principles that predate radio technology. Studying this information will facilitate effective interactions in personal, academic, and professional musical settings. Additionally, students will cultivate active listening skills and practice using vocabulary and analytical tools necessary to articulate their musical perceptions.

Course Assignment

Since this is a music course, you must dedicate time to listening and experiencing new music. To really understand and explore the songs, you must listen multiple times to each song. Active listening takes time and cannot be rushed. Please find a quiet place without distractions and listen to the music actively. Oftentimes, we let music become the background for other activities; this is passive listening. In this course, you will need to focus closely on the music. The relevant “active listening” readings in Module 1: Week 1 will help you understand what is needed to have success in the course (and to grow as a music lover!).

After reading the Course Syllabus and Student Expectations, the student will complete the related checklist found in the Course Overview.

Discussions are collaborative learning experiences; as such, you are required to create threads addressing to demonstrate course-related knowledge. In addition to your thread post(s), you are required to reply to posts by your classmates. 

Posts and replies must be completed by the noted deadlines—Thursday and Monday, respectively, except for Module 8 (Wednesday and Friday). You may post to all assignments as soon as the course opens; however, you must complete the Module lesson prior to posting. Additionally, please do not expect others to post prior to the assigned week in order for you to satisfy your reply requirements. Discussion assignments are fundamentally interactive; therefore, no late posts or replies are permitted (i.e. no extensions or make-ups), as there is no way to recapture the lost experience of critical listening and interaction with your peers. Discussion grades are based on following instructions, satisfying the prompt criteria, and replying to multiple posts from other students. All submissions should be thorough and articulate, and demonstrate:

  • Conceptual understanding of the course, lesson, and prompt
  • Technical skills learned throughout the course to that point (e.g. terminology)
  • Respect for new ideas and perspectives from your classmates and/or the lesson(s): 
    • Grant those with whom you interact the benefit of the doubt. This does not mean you must or are expected to agree with everything said by your classmates or in the lesson; you are encouraged to mull and contemplate new concepts! However, your disagreement—and ensuing reply/replies—must be courteous. 
  • University-level writing and communication skills***
    • Spelling, grammar, and cohesiveness are part of this process. This is a chance to improve your expression in a professional, yet still conversational manner. 
    • ***Students with English deficiencies should notify the instructor by the end of Week 1.

You will create a Spotify playlist that is intended to expand your listening and exposure to unfamiliar genres and subgenres of popular and jazz music. You will add at least two new songs to your playlist every module/week of the semester, which you may add only after you have completed the required readings and listening. The songs you add must be related to or inspired by the music discussed in that week’s readings or presentation, but examples from musicians discussed in the current module do not count toward your two-song minimum.

The student will write two essays, focusing on prompts relating to music style and artist culture. Each essay must include a minimum of 750 words and be formatted in Turabian.

The student will creaft a term paper that discusses the characteristics of two different popular music songs that include significant crossover elements. This assignment requires a minimum of 1,000 words and comprises two parts.

Quizzes are assessments of the information studied since the last quiz. Each quiz will be open-book/open-notes, contain multiple-choice and true/false questions, and have a seventy-five (75)-minute time limit. You may retake each quiz twice (i.e., three times total) to obtain the highest grade possible. Quizzes do not include a listening portion.

Note for all assignments: You may consult Oxford Music Online (OMO), as it is an excellent source for most music courses (, or find this in under “Databases” on the library’s website). However, while you are required to cite these and all of your sources, encyclopedias and music dictionaries such as OMO do not count toward your minimum number of sources, nor do the assigned course textbooks.

Any evidence of academic misconduct will be reported to Student Affairs. Examples of academic misconduct are plagiarism (see the following link for more information:, cheating (including, but not limited to unapproved collaboration), fabrication, or facilitating any such act on anything submitted for credit. In other words, do your own work. If you complete an assignment using information from another source, cite it using your best attempt at correct format. See the “Assignments” document for more information.