Print Version

Effective: Fall 2012

Prerequisites: Prerequisite: MUS 15B or equivalent.
Advisory: Advisory: This course is included in the Guitar Class Applied Performance family of activity courses.
Grade Type: Letter Grade, the student may select Pass/No Pass
Not Repeatable.
FHGE: Non-GE Transferable: CSU/UC
2 hours lecture, 1 hour laboratory. (36 hours total per quarter)

Student Learning Outcomes -
  • The successful student will be able to apply music theory as they perform advanced fingerpicking styles and categorize chords into primary and secondary triads.
  • Successful students will be able to make a comparison of folk and pop melodies based on an understanding of advanced right and left hand techniques.
Description -
Instruction in the playing of popular and folk guitar with an emphasis on finger-picking, barre chords, and altered tunings. Sight reading in tablature, chord symbols, and standard notation. Instrumental Blues and blues scales will be covered.

Course Objectives -
The student will be able to:
  1. Demonstrate guitar performance skills before an audience.
  2. Analyze the form and structure of contemporary and traditional pop and folk songs.
  3. Demonstrate strumming and fingerstyle techniques for folk song accompaniment.
  4. Memorize musical notation for the guitar (tablature, chord diagrams and standard notation).
  5. Perform contrapuntal guitar parts with singing.
  6. Examine left hand technique (alternating bass, hammering-on, pulling off, and bass runs).
  7. Examine right hand technique (strumming, arpeggios, and finger picking).
  8. Demonstrate pop/folk improvisation by using bass runs, slides and suspensions, integrate guitar theory by key modulation, altered tunings, 7th and diminished chords, substitutions and different chord voicings.
  9. Integrate guitar theory by key modulation, altered tunings, 7th and diminished chords, substitutions and different chord voicings.
  10. Recognize the form and structure of songs studied and listened to in class.
  11. Compare the contributions made in the popular and folk guitar repertoire from people of diverse backgrounds and cultures with changes in technology.
Special Facilities and/or Equipment -
  1. Classical, steel string, or electric guitar
  2. Music staff paper.
  3. Classroom with staff lined board.
  4. Music stands.
  5. Access to AV equipment, DVD and CD player.
  6. When taught via Foothill Global Access:
    1. On-going access to computer with Email software and capabilities.
    2. Email address.
    3. Java-script enabled internet browsing software.

Course Content (Body of knowledge) -
  1. Music theory on a more advanced level
    1. Note values, meter, chord theory, transposition, and ear training
  2. Review of guitar maintenance
    1. How often to change strings, fret work
  3. History of folk music
    1. European influence
    2. American style (Mississippi John Hurt Elizabeth Cotton, Peter Seeger, Chet Atkins, Merle Travis, Woody Guthrie, Bob Dylan, Doc Watson, Leo Kottke, Bonnie Raitt, Joni Mitchell, Jason Mraz, John Mayer, and others)
  4. Advanced techniques and skills unique to folk style playing
Methods of Evaluation -
  1. Reading
    1. Required text
  2. Writing
    1. Song comparison paper evaluating similarities and differences between 2 songs
    2. Two written midterm examinations, one written final examination
  3. Other
    1. Performance of primary and secondary chords
    2. Two solo midterm performances, and a solo final performance
Representative Text(s) -
Sokolow, Fred, Mel Bay's Best Blues Guitar, Mel Bay Publications, Pacific, MO. 1987.
Rodgers, Jeffrey Pepper, Acoustic Blues Guitar Essentials, String Letter Publications, CA, 1999.
Chipkin, Ken, Real Rock Guitar: A Classic Rock bible of the 60's and 70's, Warner Bros. Publishing, 2003.
Leonard, Hal, The Ultimate Guitar Scale Chart, Hal Leonard Corporation, 2000.
Leonard, Hal, Basic Guitar Chord Chart. Santorella Publications, 2004

Disciplines -
Method of Instruction -
Lecture, Discussion, Cooperative learning exercises, Self-paced, Oral presentations, Electronic discussions/chat, Independent study, Laboratory, Demonstration.
Lab Content -
One hour of supervised in class guitar practice is required per week.
  1. Additional Resources:
    1. Library : books for Music 15C are on reserve at the front desk. The books cover a wide spectrum of music theory and folk music
    2. Media Center: Film and Music Review: 7 segments of Martin Scorsese's PBS special on "The Blues."
    3. On-line resources: The Smithsonian Institute ( and The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame ( Artist assignments will vary by quarter.
Types and/or Examples of Required Reading, Writing and Outside of Class Assignments -
This project consists of the following 3 parts:
  1. Oral Presentation (30 points)
  2. Two 3x5 cards turned in on the day of the presentation (35 points)
  3. Directed listening: representative musical example presented for listening analysis (35pts)

Similarities and Differences Assignment
  1. Select 2 songs that you have played in class and make a copy of each.
    1. Title of the 2 songs
    2. Write a short paper and make a comparison noting what is similar and what is different between the 2 songs, whether they are instrumental or folk songs with words. Some of you have been working on instrumental folk songs, classical pieces, or blues songs so feel free to make a choice between any 2 songs that you enjoy playing. Here are some possible ideas:
      1. The song length
      2. Instrumental or vocal style
      3. Accompaniment style (alternating bass, bass runs, movable chords strumming, arpeggio, finger-picking)
      4. Reading method: tablature, standard notation, or chord symbols
      5. Key
      6. Subject matter of the lyrics (conversational, political, philosophical?)
      7. Poetic devices: rhyme, alliteration, simile, repetition, metaphor, assonance personification, symbolism, onomatopoeia. BE SURE TO ANALYZE AND WRITE ON THE LYRIC SHEET FOR THIS PART
      8. Form (verse, chorus, bridge?)
      9. Style
      10. Melody (stepwise or large intervals?)
      11. Rhythm
      12. Chord analysis
      13. Performance challenges on the guitar and how you solved them
      14. Something you learned about the guitar from playing this song
      15. Why you selected these 2 songs