Profile: John Covach

Chair of Music at Univ. of Rochester

John Covach is Professor and Chair of Music at the University of Rochester, Director of the University of Rochester Institute for Popular Music, Mercer Brugler Distinguished Teaching Professor, and Professor of Theory at the Eastman School of Music. Professor Covach teaches classes in traditional music theory as well as the history and analysis of popular music. His online courses at have enrolled more than 250,000 students in over 165 countries worldwide.
John Covach has published dozens of articles on topics dealing with popular music, twelve-tone music, and the philosophy and aesthetics of music. He is the author of the college textbook What's That Sound? An Introduction to Rock Music, recently published by W. W. Norton in a fourth edition, and has co-edited Understanding Rock (Oxford University Press), American Rock and the Classical Tradition, and Traditions, Institutions, and American Popular Music (both with Routledge), as well the recently published volume, Sounding Out Pop (Michigan). He is one of the founding editors for the University of Michigan Press series called Tracking Pop, which is devoted to scholarly monographs on popular music.

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NoteStreams By John Covach

How BB King’s Radio Days Shaped His Music & Career

BB King is remembered as one of the most important artists in the history of blues, with a long career that spanned seven decades and included classic hits such as Three O’Clock Blues (1951), The Thrill is Gone (1969) and 1989’s When Love Comes to Town (recorded with U2). Widely considered one of the most influential guitarists of the 20th century, he became, in his later years, a celebrated icon of blues authenticity. Had it not been for his early days in radio, however, things might have turned out differently for a young Riley King.

Category: Music

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What To Know Before Watching Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck

The new documentary Montage of Heck takes a fresh look at the life and career of Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain, who, while only in the pop limelight for a shade over two years, remains one of the most iconic figures in rock-music history. In an effort to correct some of the myths that surround Cobain, director Brett Morgen opens a window onto Kurt’s private world, providing at times intimate glimpses of the rock star’s personal life. But to better understand Kurt Cobain and his songs, it’s important to realize that there are at least three Kurts to consider.

Category: Music

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Rolling Stones' 1st US Hit Revealed Eclectic Style

In the first weeks of 1964, the Beatles’ “I Want To Hold Your Hand” raced up the US charts, giving the Liverpool band its first American hit single and helping to launch the British invasion. At around the same time, the Rolling Stones were enjoying a number-three hit in the UK with “Not Fade Away,” as well as a number-one British EP. The Stones tried – but couldn’t immediately replicate – the Beatles' stateside success, lagging behind by more than a year. The decisive breakthrough for Mick, Keith and company came with the release of “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” in June of 1965. The song rocketed to the top of the US charts, partly fueled by claims that the lyrics referred to sexual frustration.

Category: Music

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