Ingenuity and Innovation: How Rock and Roll Splintered in the 1970s

Kathryn Metz, Assistant Professor of Ethnomusicology
June 7-July 7, 2021

Registration deadline: May 24, 2021

For lifelong learners of all backgrounds.

Kathryn Metz.
Photo credit: Tanya Rosen-Jones '97

Age range: 18 and older

Course Description

The 1970s saw a dramatic shift in styles, technologies, and consumption of popular music. The rock industry coalesced while genres splintered, pushing listeners into marketable boxes. In this course, students will uncover the layers of political, social, and cultural shifts in the 1970s that continue to shape and reshape rock and roll and its branches. We will explore hip-hop, prog rock, electronic rock, synth pop, glam, arena rock, disco, soul, R&B, punk, and more. Artists pushed technological innovations as they often eschewed popularity for the sake of their music. Meanwhile, genres resegregated often along racial lines, producing hotly contested releases that sometimes garnered dramatic critical reception.

Meeting Times

June 7-July 7

• Mondays: Synchronous sessions from 7:30-8:30 p.m. ET. These sessions will also be recorded.
• Five additional recorded sessions.

CEU/Hours of Engagement: 10 hours = 1 CEU

Course Fee: $200

Registration for Summer 2021 is now closed. 


Week 1: How Did We Get Here? Genres splinter as the rock industry explodes

Week 2: Punk/Metal/Prog: Classism, Racism, Virtuosity, Marginalization

Week 3: Afro-Futurism/Hip-hop: Racism, Innovation, Survival, Resistance

Week 4: Glam/Singer-Songwriters: Gender, Invention, Introspection

Week 5: Disco/Electronic: Gender, Racism, Technology, Invention, Exploration

While we cannot cover every genre and artist from the 1970s, this is our chance to understand what the underpinnings of a resegregation of sound meant for new generations of listeners.


Kathryn Metz is an Assistant Professor of Ethnomusicology at Oberlin College and Conservatory, where she has stewarded the musical studies program for students pursuing their BA in music. She has produced public programs and led professional development workshops for Oberlin College faculty learning how to integrate music into their curricula. Prior to arriving at Oberlin, Metz was manager of community and family programs at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland, where she fostered sustainable relationships with community organizations and collaborated with community leaders in order to better serve their constituents’ needs in connecting music and social justice. She co-produced public programs and concerts, taught thousands of K-12 students on-site, and designed and developed curricula for digital learning spaces.