Rock on!

rockonThe August Bloggers for Peace challenge on Everyday Gurus this month stumped me, I’ll admit it. While I love music—I grew up learning classical singing, had a piano at home which my mother played by ear,  have learnt piano and guitar and have an eclectic personal music collection—I didn’t know what I could add to a discussion about how music can bring or promote peace.

I could state the obvious: Give Peace a Chance by John Lennon and loads of hippie songs from the 1960s and so on. But everyone knows that.

 Music is probably the world’s most universally understood medium, thus it’s arguably the most powerful. The challenge, and my inability to come up with a worthwhile contribution, made me think, What do I really know about modern music?

This week, when my regular email from Coursera arrived, I clicked on it, and skimmed the list of courses offered. (If you haven’t heard, Coursera is an online organisation that offers free university-level courses from many different universities to anyone who wants to sign up).  My eye hit ‘The History of Rock Music’, and now I’m enrolled for the seven-week free music appreciation course starting Monday.

I know you don’t need to do a course to appreciate music, but I’m interested in finding out more of the background to great US music from the 1950s on. The course instructor has done the hard work for me, and promises I will discover musical tastes and directions I never knew existed. It’s a free course, so I have absolutely nothing to lose.

Plus, it seems to me that spending a few hours a week listening to wonderful music will help promote harmony in my life–in the same way as my painting takes me away from rules, words, work, timetables, worries. I will keep you posted on how it goes!

My talking Ozzy Osborne doll. But more about him and the other three Osborne dolls in a post for another day...

My talking Ozzy Osbourne doll. But more about him and the other three Osbourne dolls in a post for another day…

 Update, October 20: I’ve finished the first ‘History of Music’ course on Coursera and got 100%! I’ve now enrolled for part two of the course coming up soon. It was fascinating the way the course covered so much in such a short time. I’d imagine the most difficult part was deciding what to leave out. I can now appreciate much more strongly the musicians of the 1960s, who I’d not had much time for previously.

16 thoughts on “Rock on!

  1. Wow, I’ll be interested to hear of your progress. My own in this regard finds me these days NOT a rock fan at all – aside from a few artists/albums that have extremely personal resonance with me.

    Rather, I see rock now as a smallish, indulgent and frequently awful side trip to the much greater – in every sense off the word – sounds from which “rock” sprung: true people’s music such as rock ‘n’ roll (in this context here is a difference), R&B, country, blues, gospel, cajun, zydeco, doo wop, soul and even jazz. And much, much more.

    It’s a delicious pleasure to lose myself in all that is now available from the 1890s and onwards and not bother at all with anything contemporary.

    And it’s great not writing about it or the first time in my life, though I do miss having face-to-face conversations about it. I still buy at least a couple of CDs a week and study the great classics in depth, but it’s become a very personal passion.

    OTOH, it’s great to be writing about food – everyone eats! – instead of trying to convert folks to my musical ways.

    Which leads me to a question:

    You say: “I’m interested in finding out more of the background to great US music from the 1950s on.”

    Why not great US music from the 1890s on?

    I consider it a daily miracle of my life that I have the privilege of listening to and enjoying it all, taking care of blind spots and finding new revelations in music and sounds I thought I already knew well. And seeing profound connections between them all.

    Thank you, Mr Edison!

    • Hey Kenny, thanks for such a fulsome comment. It would be great to look at the wider range of US music from the 1890s, I agree. Maybe doing this course, which starts its journey with the 1950s, will spur me on to a wider exploration. I hope so! I admire your knowledge in this area, and I always feel hopelessly inept in discussions of music. So I’m hoping this will just be a little start for me! The course is run by Rochester University in NY, by Professor John Covach. Will keep you posted!

  2. Thanks for the tip re Coursera.

    In regards to how music can promote or bring about piece, I think that it can promote peace or conflict. Good examples of the latter might be the use of music by the British in the late 19th and early 20th centuries; and the Third Reich through the 1930s and early 40s. An example of the former might be the music of the late 60s which helped promote the values of the ‘peace generation’ – it was just the music for hippies and peaceniks: it was the music of that generation and as much embraced by soldiers in unpopular wars like Vietnam as by those that stayed at home. Commercial as it may have been or become, I think we could also credit the original LiveAid as contributing to the promotion of peace by highlighting some of the less-reported conflicts and their impacts on people around the world, possibly also the ongoing work of musicians like Bob Geldoff…?

  3. Caron,
    I could have sworn I replied to this post, but I don’t see my comment. I love the fact that you are taking a history of rock music class. Make sure you take the Ozzie bobble head with you to class. haha. I know it is an online class. I also love Coursera. Thank you for sharing. {{{hugs}}} kozo

    • Thanks, Kozo, I will keep Ozzie beside me, plus Mrs Ozzie and the two kids, which I also have.
      So far, so good with the course. I’m loving the lecturer’s style, picking up tips for my own lecture delivery, and I scored 100% on the first test!

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