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Book Details

  • Paperback
  • Bookstore's Wholesale Price: $72.00
  • January 2012
  • ISBN: 978-0-393-91204-3
  • 640 pages
  • Territory Rights: Worldwide

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What's That Sound?

An Introduction to Rock and Its History

Third Edition


John Covach (Author, University of Rochester), Andrew Flory (Author, Carleton College)


The music—front and center.

The number 1 text in the market, What’s That Sound? treats rock as music first and foremost. New co-author Andy Flory has built on the classic strengths of the book to deliver this Third Edition, which includes revamped in-text listening guides, a four-color design, a new introductory chapter, updated material on music in the twenty-first century, and new and revised in-text features designed to help students become better listeners.


A focus on the music makes students better listeners

What’s That Sound? treats rock as music first—covering a broad sweep of music in a deep, consistent, accessible way:

A new introduction, What to Listen for in Rock, ensures that students are able to get up to speed on music fundamentals essential to understanding rock, no matter what their background.

Newly designed Listening Guides show students the music up close—complete with timings and lyric signposts, but without overwhelming notation or jargon. Listening guides are provided for every major work.

Interactive Listening Guides (iLGs) are keyed to the text Listening Guides and connect to imported or downloaded digital music files. The iLGs provide students with moment-by-moment descriptions of the music as they listen.

Sound Check reference boxes remind students of the primary characteristics of the songs in each chapter.

Streamlined, accessible, and engaging

The Third Edition has been carefully streamlined to enhance the narrative flow, and the entire book has been redesigned in four-color to make the reading experience more memorable. A new section, Viewing Rock, presents focused overviews of the various forms taken since the 1950s by the combination of music and moving image, including TV performance, rock film, music video, live performance on film, and dance shows. Backstage Pass boxes are written by world-renowned rock journalists and highlight major moments in rock. Historical/Cultural Overviews give students a sense of “the times” and how they connect to the music being made.

Up-to-date and balanced

A new chapter, “A Very Different Industry: The First Decade of the New Millennium,” has been added to cover more recent music. The chapter deals with development in mainstream and independent rock, hip-hop, and rhythm and blues. It also addresses the downward spiral of the recording industry and new technologies for managing, experiencing, and interacting with rock music. In addition, many chapters have been revised to reveal more connections between artists and styles, without getting caught up in political and social temperament.

A media package that gets at the music

The media package is unparalleled in getting students to understand rock music’s structure, contrast in styles, and historical context. Continuing a tradition of innovation, the media package is helpful to both students and teachers.

Playlists link to music downloads from iTunes and Amazon and feature information about the artists, who influences(d) them, and who they, in turn, influence(d)—making a living biography that matches the vitality of the book.

Rock videos from authorized channels are embedded when available.

StudySpace, the free student website, provides download access to interactive listening-guide software, as well as outlines and practice quizzes for each chapter.

    Introduction:  What to Listen for in Rock

    Chapter 1.  Roots–1955, The World before Rock and Roll

    Chapter 2.  1955–1960, The Birth and First Flourishing of Rock and Roll

    Chapter 3.  1959–1963, The Demise of Rock and Roll and the Promise of Soul

    Chapter 4.  1964–1966, The Beatles and the British Invasion

    Chapter 5.  1964–1966, American Responses

    Chapter 6.  1960–1970, Motown Pop and Southern Soul

    Chapter 7.  1965–1969, Psychedelia

    Chapter 8.  1970–1975, The Growing Rock Monster

    Chapter 9.  1970–1980, Black Pop, Reggae, and the Rise of Disco

    Chapter 10.  1975–1980, Mainstream Rock, Punk, and New Wave

    Chapter 11.  1980–1990, I Want My MTV

    Chapter 12.  1982–1992, Heavy Metal, Rap, and the Rise of Alternative Rock

    Chapter 13.  1990–2000, The More Things Change

    Chapter 14.  Conclusion: A Very Different Industry—The First Decade of the New Millennium