Music’s Big Bang: The Genesis of Rock ‘n’ Roll

Explores the factors — musical and cultural — that led to the birth of American rock 'n' roll music in the early 1950s.

About The Course

How did rock 'n' roll music come to be?

Join us to explore Music's Big Bang -- how music brought to America by immigrants evolved, blended and eventually became the delectable stew that is rock 'n' roll.

We will see and hear the ingredients in that stew, such as blues, jazz and gospel, and explore rock 'n' roll's first half decade, roughly 1955 to 1960. We will consider cultural factors, too, including the advance of technology, the migration of rural Americans from the South to the cities of the North, and the threats to mainstream American values presented by teenage rebellion and the Civil Rights Movement.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Will I get a Statement of Accomplishment after completing this class?

    Yes. Students who successfully complete the class will receive a Statement of Accomplishment. Those who complete the course with distinction will receive a Statement of Accomplishment signed by the instructor. A verified certificate is available at extra cost for those who may want proof of completion for potential college credit.

  • What resources will I need for this class?

    For this course, all you need is an Internet connection and the time to watch, listen, discuss, and enjoy some fabulous music.

  • What if I don't know anything about music?

    No problem. This is not a music course, and we will spend very little time talking about music theory, tempo or meter. This is about the cultural history of American music.
  • What is the coolest thing I'll learn if I take this class?

    In addition to hearing and discussing some terrific music, this course aims to put history, technology and cultural events in perspective to help everyone better understand how rock 'n' roll music came to exist in America.

Recommended Background

No previous knowledge is required.