History of Rock and Roll

I know it’s only rock and roll…

Music history isn’t just about tribal drums and white-wigged composers. There’s also the people’s music – popular music – and for the last half century, that music has been rock and roll.

The History of Rock of Rock and Roll Music (MUS 128) is being offered from 4-5:20 p.m. Mondays and Wednesdays. This second section was added for the first time in spring 2012, said Harvey Fitzer, adjunct professor, music. A morning section is already full.

Previously, Fitzer had only taught one section of the class that traces the roots of rock and roll from slave work songs to Nirvana. He’s extending his reach, and he hopes students will enroll.

“It’s a fun class,” Fitzer said. “Learning about music, listening to music, watching videos about the artists themselves, the protest music from the ‘60s that accompanied the war in Vietnam – everything that happened from the ‘50s to the ‘90s is right there in the music.”

Rock and roll gets its roots from three different styles of music – country/western, pop and rhythm and blues. Students study how these three forms began to intertwine in the early 1950s, Fitzer said.

“Music was very segregated back then. You couldn’t buy ‘black’ music – typically rhythm and blues – at a ‘white’ record store,” he explained.

“We study the music decade by decade,” he said. “But you also have a mishmash of styles going on in the ‘60s and ‘70s, so we study things chronologically, but also stylistically.”

As students listen to the music, they also learn something about history.

“Music is a mirror that reflects society,” Fitzer said. “So this class is a reflection of the United States and England during that time period.”

Fitzer plays guitar for two bands in town – Riptide and Drunkards Dream. He also teaches guitar at JCCC and offers lessons from music stores and his home.

“A lot of students don’t realize they can learn to play guitar and get college credit for it,” he said. There’s a renewed appreciation for performing live music, according Fitzer, because the easily downloaded (and easily pirated) MP3s of music are cutting into a musician’s recorded-music revenues. Live performances, however, offer a chance for merchandising. “T-shirts. Lots of T-shirts,” he said.

For information about days and times MUS 128 is offered, view the class search.