Hip-Hop to Dubstep: International Music Styles and the Remix, NCOM 3039.A

Course Syllabus

Instructor: Eduardo Navas, navase@newschool.edu

School of Media Studies, Department of Communication

The New School University


Summer 2013


Course Description

This course is a theoretical and historical survey of popular music influenced by or part of the remix tradition in hip-hop and electronica. Emphasis is placed on the shaping of culture by media and vice-versa. Remixes are compositions that reconfigure a pre-existing music recording, often to make it more danceable. As simple as the definition sounds, it carries a complex set of cultural variables that include issues of class, gender, and ethnicity. Listening exercises and analysis of recorded music is complemented by readings that provide understanding of the historical context and theoretical underpinning of remix practices. Our survey begins with popular music in the United States in the early 1950s, including Blues, R&B, Rock n' Roll, and early funk. In the 1960s, this music was appropriated in the Caribbean and gave birth to new styles, Calypso, Ska, Reggae, and Dub. Then it came full circle back to the United States with the development of hip-hop music. The rise of the international styles called trip-hop, drum 'n' bass, and dubstep and the parallel history of techno and house music and styles in-between are then considered, in order to arrive at a theoretical understanding of the complexity of contemporary music and the extent to which it has been defined by the principles of sampling and remix.



Class Structure

At the beginning of each week‹on Mondays, an introductory lecture will be posted along with questions on the readings and the music selection, which will be available online for listening. Each weekly discussion, except for the first week and the last week, will be led by students. Students leading a discussion must be ready to discuss the questions and share their views and analysis of the discography for the respective week.


Participants will be expected to post at least two responses and comments each week demonstrating that they have read the assigned texts and listened to the assigned music selection.  Notes and questions by the instructor should be considered starting points for a fruitful conversation.  It¹s important to keep up with all readings and activities in class because they will inform the final paper due at the end of the term.


By Thursday night of each week every participant should have at least two posts, at which point we will officially come to the end of the discussion. This is done in order to give participants enough time to focus on the next set of readings and media works. If somebody posts on the discussion thread after Thursday, it will not be considered late, but it is in the students¹ best interest to focus on the current readings for each week according to the schedule.  Posting late comments after the discussion is officially over may prove to be overwhelming when trying to keep up with overall class activity, therefore students should try to keep up and focus on the current weekly activities as much as possible. There will be discussions every week except for the last week of class, when students will have time to write the final essay.



Student Evaluation

As noted above, students¹ evaluation will be based on their general participation in weekly discussions, as well as leading a discussion on one of the assigned readings. A final essay is due at the end of the class.  Rambling about a subject with no specific reference to the texts or music selections will not count as participation.  Each post should demonstrate some understanding of the subject, and use of specific terms.  There is no word limit but a strong post is one that shows clear engagement with the subject matter.  If students do not understand something, a question should be posted for discussion. However, such question should demonstrate that the participant has read the material and listened to the music selections. See details on distributed percentage for each of the three items below under grading.



Learning Outcomes:



A Note on Plagiarism

Plagiarism will not be tolerated. A student who commits plagiarism will be reported to the office of the Media Studies. The student¹s behavior will be taken very seriously and dealt with according to the guidelines provided by The New School. To avoid plagiarism, please cite your sources when appropriate.




The New School views ³academic honesty and integrity² as the duty of every member of an academic community to claim authorship for his or her own work and only for that work, and to recognize the contributions of others accurately and completely. This obligation is fundamental to the integrity of intellectual debate, and creative and academic pursuits. Academic honesty and integrity includes accurate use of quotations, as well as appropriate and explicit citation of sources in instances of paraphrasing and describing ideas, or reporting on research findings or any aspect of the work of others (including that of faculty members and other students). Academic dishonesty results from infractions of this ³accurate use². The standards of academic honesty and integrity, and citation of sources, apply to all forms of academic work, including submissions of drafts of final papers or projects. All members of the University community are expected to conduct themselves in accord with the standards of academic honesty and integrity.


Definitions and Examples of Academic Dishonesty


Academic dishonesty includes, but is not limited to:


Please download the complete document, available on Blackboard along with this syllabus.



Required Readings


Brewster, Bill and Broughton, Frank. Last Night a DJ Saved My Life.

New York: Grover Press. 2000.

Hagerty, Paul. Noise/Music: A History. New York: Continuum. 2008

Rose, Tricia. Black Noise. Connecticut: Wesleyan University Press. 1994.



Course Requirements

Please note that final grades are dependent upon consistent performance in all course requirements.






Total 100%


Grade Scale

Letter grade assignments are as follows:






Office hours: Contact via e-mail


Semester Schedule


Please note that all online material, including discography is available at http://navasse.net/NS/NCOM3039A


Week 1

June 3, - 7, 2013

Introduction to class

Pre-history/Critical Context

1900 ­1960s

View and listen to multimedia material online and discuss on Blackboard

Evaluate chapters in books to decide on a week to lead a discussion. All students must lead a weekly discussion during the term.


Week 2

June 10 ­ 14, 2013

Dub Music/Hip-Hop

Tricia Rose (Black Noise), Chapters 1 ­ 2

Brewster (Last Night a DJŠ), Chapters 1 ­ 3

View and listen to multimedia material online and discuss on Blackboard

Weekly discussion leaders announced.




Week 3

June 17 ­ 21, 2013


Brewster 4 ­ 9

Michael Veal, Introduction and Chapter 1 of Dub (PDF for download)

View and listen to multimedia material online and discuss on Blackboard


Week 4

June 24 ­ 28, 2013

Hip-Hop/House Music/Techno

Rose (Black Noise), chapter 3 ­ 4

Brewster (Last Night A DJŠ), 10 ­ 12

View and listen to multimedia material online and discuss on Blackboard


Week 5

July 1 ­ July 5, 2013

Trip-Hop/Downtempo/Drum Œn¹ Bass

Paul Hegarty (Noise/Music), Chapters 1 ­ 5

View and listen to multimedia material online and discuss on Blackboard



Week 6

July 8 ­ 12, 2013


Hegarty, (Noise/Music), Chapters 6 ­ 8, 12 ­ 13

View and listen to multimedia material online and discuss on Blackboard


Week 7

July 15 ­ 19, 2013

International Horizon

Rose (Black Noise), Chapter 5

View and listen to multimedia material online and discuss on Blackboard




Week 8

July 22 ­ 25, 2013

Final Text Due