Beatles scholar to visit School of Music Oct. 13

October 08, 2015

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Music theorist and popular music scholar John Covach will present a lecture as part of Penn State's Music History & Theory Colloquium at 4 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 13, in 115 Music Building I. Titled "George Harrison, Songwriter," the lecture will explore Harrison’s songwriting contribution to "The White Album." Comparing and contrasting Harrison’s writing with that of both John Lennon and Paul McCartney, George’s four songs, “While My Guitar Gently Weeps,” “Piggies,” “Long, Long, Long,” and “Savoy Truffle,” will be examined, as well as his other songs that the band worked on during the sessions for the album. The discussion of George’s music will place the detailed musical analysis of each song in a broader music-historical and cultural context, showing how elements of musical structure, studio production and instrumentation, relationships to other songs, and the general spirit of the counterculture play a role in shaping our understanding of these songs. Admission to the lecture is free.

Professor Covach will also speak at 11:15 a.m. on Oct. 13 during the course meeting of Music 531 — "Music of the Beatles" — in 117 Music Building I. His class presentation is also open to the public. In addition, during his visit to University Park, he will videotape an interview for future inclusion in the Music 109 course titled "Music of the Beatles." Covach's visit will be hosted by Penn State theory professor Vincent Benitez.

Covach is professor of music and chair of the department of music at the University of Rochester. He also serves as director of the University of Rochester’s Institute for Popular Music and professor of music theory at the Eastman School of Music. On Sept. 9, he was named the inaugural director of the University of Rochester's newly created Institute for Performing Arts. He 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 more 165 countries.

Covach is the principal 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 as the recently published volume, "Sounding Out Pop" (University of Michigan Press). He has published dozens of articles on topics dealing with popular music, twelve-tone music, and the philosophy and aesthetics of music.

  • John Covach

    John Covach

    IMAGE: J. Adam Fenster/University of Rochester
Last Updated October 14, 2015