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Funk Asserts Itself

How did 1970s Funk respond to African-American life in the decade following the Civil Rights movement?

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Punk as Reaction

How was Punk Rock a reaction both to the commercialization of Rock and Roll and to the social climate in late 1970s Britain?

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Latin Music in Postwar New York City

How did the growth of New York City’s Latino population in the 1940s and 50s help to increase the popularity of Latin music and dance in American culture?

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The Blues: The Sound of Rural Poverty

How do the Country Blues reflect the challenges of sharecropping, racial injustice, and rural poverty in early 20th-century African-American life?

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The Blues and the Great Migration

How did the Great Migration spread Southern culture, helping to give the Blues a central place in American popular music?

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Dan Penn

How did black artists and white songwriters and musicians interact in the Soul era, and what contributed to that interaction?

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Learning Rhythm through Gospel

How can Gospel music help students identify the musical concepts of beat, meter, backbeat, subdivision, and syncopation?

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The Evolution of Sound Recording

How did multitrack recording technologies enable musicians to create a form of music that could only be realized in the studio?

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Muddy Waters, the New Kid in Town

How did Muddy Waters’ music change after he moved to Chicago, and what does that say about the relationship between place and self-expression?

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The Gospel Origins of “Chain of Fools”

Essential Question: How did Aretha Franklin’s foundation in Gospel music influence her recording of “Chain of Fools,” helping to establish a Soul sound and bringing black culture into mainstream America?

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Bo Diddley: The Grandfather of Hip Hop?

How were Bo Diddley’s recordings an anomaly in relation to 1950s Pop music, and how is his rhythm-driven sound and self-presentation a precursor to Hip Hop style?

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World War II and the Shrinking of the Ensemble

How did wartime restrictions and other factors cause popular music ensembles to shrink in size during the 1940s, helping to set the stage for the small “combos” of Rock and Roll?

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100 Years of Dance

Why might people dance, and how have dance trends changed in America since the 1920s?

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The Birth of the Microphone

How did the development of microphones in the 20th century change the way people make and listen to music?

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Producing the Sounds of a Changing South

How did the recordings Sam Phillips produced at Sun Records, including Elvis Presley’s early work, reflect trends of urbanization and integration in the 1950s American South?

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Music and Community in New Orleans

How is music embedded into the cultural fabric of New Orleans, and how might it help reinforce a sense of community in the city?

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Debating Cultural Appropriation

What is cultural appropriation, how does it affect Native American communities, and should it be regulated by law?

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The Musical History of the Cajuns

How did the Acadians, or Cajuns, use music and dance to maintain their communal bonds after being displaced during the French and Indian War?

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The Impact of the Electric Guitar

How did the electrification, amplification and design of the guitar facilitate its emergence as a dominant instrument of popular music?

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The Ethics of Sampling

What makes a work of art “original,” and how does the use of “sampling” technology in Hip Hop challenge perceptions of “originality”?

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The Teamwork Behind the Beatles

How did the input of manager Brian Epstein and record producer George Martin help The Beatles develop and refine skills that aided the band in presenting their music and personalities to a mass audience?

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The Beatles Work Towards Success

How did The Beatles' rigorous work schedule during the years 1960-63 build their strengths as performers, as musicians, and as a band?

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The History of Music Videos

How has the relation between sound and image shifted through the history of recorded music, and how did the rise of MTV bring that relationship to a culmination of sorts?

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Dylan as Poet

How did Bob Dylan merge poetry with popular music?

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Beatlemania

What were the factors that contributed to the rise of Beatlemania?

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Dion and the Teen Idols

What role did the so-called "teen idols" of the late 1950s play in bringing Rock and Roll into mainstream American culture?

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The Rise of Disco

How did Disco relate to the sentiments and social movements of the 1970s?

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The Rise of Black Pride

How did Social Soul reflect a new vision of African-American identity in the late 1960s and early 1970s?

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Italian-American Vocalists Before Rock and Roll

How did the careers of Italian American vocalists in the first half of the 20th century reflect the experiences of Italian American immigrants and attitudes toward them in the wider American culture?

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Introducing New Wave

What did Punk Rock provide that opened the door for New Wave acts? And what are some among the defining attributes of New Wave?

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Introducing Glam Rock

How was Glam Rock a reaction to the "seriousness" of popular music at the time?

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The Roots of Progressive Rock

How did Progressive Rock’s incorporation of classical traditions and countercultural values help to forge a unique Rock genre in the late 1960s?

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The Birth of Latino Rock

How did Ritchie Valens meld traditional Mexican music and Rock and Roll, marking the birth of Latino Rock?

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The Memphis Sound and Racial Integration

How has Memphis music culture provided one example of art’s capacity to challenge the racial boundaries that have so often structured American life?

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Chuck Berry

Why is Chuck Berry often considered the most important of the early Rock and Rollers?

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The Indigenous Roots of Rock and Roll

What does Link Wray’s biography say about how Native Americans lived in the first half of the 20th century, and what role did Wray’s upbringing have on his music?

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Indigenous Music from Wounded Knee to the Billboard Charts

In what ways did the music of Native Americans mark them as outsiders from the developing narratives of “American-ness” in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and how did the federal government attempt to use music as a tool to force assimilation?

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Designing a Band Logo

What is a logo, what are the elements of effective logo design, and how have musicians and bands used logos to brand themselves?

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“Blowin’ in the Wind” as a Rallying Cry

How does the song “Blowin’ in the Wind” use poetic devices to communicate an open-ended yet powerful message about the human condition, without ever losing its historical specificity?

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“Twist and Shout” and Post-War Britain

What role did cover songs like “Twist and Shout” play early in the Beatles's career, and how did their experiences growing up in post-WWII Liverpool and performing in Hamburg nightclubs help them to develop as a professional musical ensemble?

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Cleaning up the Plastic Beach

How is plastic made, how does it affect our marine environments, and how can plastic waste be eliminated?

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Drawing to Music

How might visual artists use music as a tool for inspiration, and how might sound be reflected through art?

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