Popular Music & Performance Style
Students complete a T-Chart to compare different live (recorded) performances of the same song:
- The Shirelles, “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow” (1960)
- Carole King, “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow” (1971)
Some guiding questions for discussion about each song, as students seek to complete a T-Chart, include:
- how does the performance style (not) align with the lyrics of the song?
- what are the musicians wearing? how is their hair styled?
- how are the musicians moving?
- how old are the musicians? what race?
- what job did these musicians have in the industry at the time? before this performance?
- how much control did they have over this performance?
- what is the connotation of “girl group”? what is the connotation of “singer-songwriter”?
Uses for this lesson (depending on course need):
- discussion of timbre as it relates to emotion, authenticity
- analysis of musical features in conjunction with image, motion, performance style, etc.
- analysis of how identity affects how musicians can & do operate within music culture, depending on age, race, status/clout, job title, etc.
- example to discuss agency
- example of 1960s “girl groups,” particularly those produced by the factory-like systems of the Brill Building & Motown
- example of the 1960s/1970s singer-songwriter style
- comparison of how audiences receive(d) girl groups and singer-songwriters
This activity can be completed completely as a class, or in small groups, re-convening to (1) check the T-Chart and/or (2) have a culminating discussion that speaks to your main learning outcome for the lesson. For example: in a lesson that focuses on U.S. music and race, the end discussion could lead to a discussion of the Motown finishing school.
I have most often used this lesson with non-major students, but it was also successful with my 400-level undergraduate students. In all instances, students are able to pick up on precise details about the musical sounds as well as the performance style and contextualize what they see & hear within our larger goals.
Submitted by: Elizabeth Massey