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What's That Sound?: An Introduction to Rock and Its History 2nd Edition

4.5 out of 5 stars 35 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0393932294
ISBN-10: 039393229X
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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

John Covach (Professor of Music, University of Rochester and Eastman School of Music) received his Bachelor of Music (1983), Master of Music (1985), and PhD (1990) in music theory from the University of Michigan. He was also a Fulbright student in Vienna, Austria, in 1987–88. The recipient of several teaching awards and citations, Professor Covach teaches theory and analysis as well as courses in popular music. Since 1993, he has taught large lecture courses on rock at University of North Texas, University of North Carolina–Chapel Hill, and University of Rochester, and has lectured across North America and Europe. He is coeditor of Understanding Rock (Oxford 1997), American Rock and the Classical Music Tradition (Harwood 2000), and Institutions, Traditions, and American Popular Music (Harwood 2000). His extensive writings on twentieth-century music, popular music, and the philosophy of music have appeared in numerous books and journals. Professor Covach also maintains an active career as a performing and recording musician.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 624 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; 2 edition (March 12, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 039393229X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393932294
  • Product Dimensions: 7.4 x 1.3 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.9 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #348,181 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Like others who reviewed, I also purchased this for a class. It's a good read - it basically provides a brief background on the culture and society of each decade before delving into various artists and the evolution of different genres. Most of the info can be found on the chapter outlines from the study guide website of the first edition of the book. The editions are similar and they both go into the early 2000s (I think early Eminem is probably the last artist they have). However, in the updated version, there are some interesting "Backstage passes" that give some interesting tidbits on concerts of major bands, and an interesting photo insert. As a music fan, most of the book was not new since it's pretty general, but it is nice to have all the info in one compact volume (It's kind of cool to have a book with all the major artists in the past hundred years).
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Some people say rock music is just noise, which is an easy assumption without considering its evolution. John Covach's What's that Sound? An Introduction to Rock and its History 2nd Edition explores the history of the rock music genre from its roots to where it is today, while exploring many of the genres that have developed from it. Covach has earned a Bachelor of Music, a Master of Music, a Ph.D. in music theory, earned several teaching citations and awards, and has authored many textbooks, articles, and journals. These credentials make him an excellent subject matter expert. Rock music, with a reputation of pushing society's boundaries, has changed throughout its history and continues to do so.

The book introduces the reader to a world of music prior to rock and roll and provides an elementary lesson in the composition of rock music. From that point, it proceeds in a chronological order through time to the late 1990's offering period specific examples of songs while emphasizing the influences of new music as it develops. Styles discussed include: early rock, British rock, Motown, Psychedelia, Disco, Punk, Rap, and Heavy Metal just to name a few. Though I do not like all styles discussed, after reading the book I definitely have a greater appreciation for the artistic value and history of all forms of music.

The emergence of the rock genre originally targeted teenagers following WWII, and centered on themes important to them such as romance and dancing. As it progressed, so did the themes of the music to target politics, drugs, sex, violence, discrimination, and even societal norms. The focus of music would change from dancing, to the listening experience with the hippie aesthetic, and ultimately seemingly to merge the two.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I took an online course from a local community class over two summers ago, and did ALOT of reading from this book. At first, I worried that I wouldn't understand the technical jargon related to music (I was an elementary education major; the summer course was called "History of Rock n Roll"). But the book is very clear in their definitions of musical terms (if a little stiff). However, I do feel that I learned so much about the history of music and how today's music has been influenced by those artists and musicians of the past. It's a very wordy tome, but if you are interested in the history of rock music, it's definitely worth the money.
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Format: Paperback
If you want to give a class on the development of rock and roll and pop music in the US this is the book to get. It's perfect, highlights history, musical elements but not so much that it's incomprehensible for a non musician. Especially the listening guides are very useful.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I purchased this book to go along with the MOOC class I took with John Covach on line at coursea.org. His class was great (it is presented in two parts, both are covered in this one book) and was so interesting I often wanted to read more about the groups or people he was covering with this interesting book. Highly recommended for anyone who wants to learn the history of Rock and Roll.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Took a history of rock class with Professor Covach. The class was very fun however he asked for the 3rd edition of this book. I didn't want to spend the money on the 3rd edition and I am glad I bought the 1st. This book has all the information needed to do well in the class, plus much more interesting information to know!
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This was a great book, well written and easy to find what you are looking for. Covers the history of Rock, which is the course that I took. It takes it from the beginning and rolls into the modern day music. Enjoyable!!
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By mruck on December 28, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
i had this as a textbook and while it was great to use for that, I also bought it for a xmas gift for a pop culture enthusiast and he loves it. It is an easy read and is presented in a really coherent manner.
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