With Boston bursting at the seams with colleges and conservatories, music knowledge can get you quite far in this town. WAYNE MARSHALL, who wrote last week’s Phoenix reggaeton story, has taken his knowledge from the clubs all the way to Harvard University. (No stranger to academe, Marshall has taught at Cambridge Rindge and Latin High School, Brown University, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he’s working toward a PhD in ethnomusicology.) He’s offering “Electronic Music: History and Aesthetics of Popular Music Since the 1960s” (MUSI E-145) through the Harvard Extension School; it begins January 31.
“It's an extremely ambitious course,” he says, “attempting as broad an overview of electronic music as possible, with an emphasis on popular, dance-related forms.” The syllabus (available on-line, complete with MP3s and links galore) backs him up. Phrases like krautrock, acid house, and click-hop are peppered through the 16-week course, and every element invites classroom participation. With multiple readings for each genre, listening assignments, and — in some cases — required musicmaking, the is monumental. “Our appreciation/analysis of musical style is developed through careful, close listening as well as several hands-on production projects for which students create tracks in the styles they are studying.”
Just as thorough is Marshall’s selection of guest speakers: this semester’s guests include DJ C, DJ Flack, Keith Fullerton Whitman, Pamelia Kurstin, DJ BC, DJ Paul Dailey, and DJ Axel Foley, “who does an amazing history of scratching, live.” Whitman, a/k/a HRVATSKI, will give a tour of Harvard’s Studio for Electroacoustic Composition at the end of the year. The course kicks off with a performance by thereminist PAMELIA KURSTIN, who’s playing Enormous Room this Monday, January 30, at Beat Research.
What’s more, this year the Harvard Extension School has selected “Electronic Music” to be part of the distance learning project, which gives anyone in the world the opportunity to access the course over the Web. “I'm definitely excited about the prospect of having students from around the globe participating in discussions and sharing their perspectives. I think the has a lot of potential to develop into a vibrant on-line community, debating and creating.” Now in its second year at Harvard, Marshall’s course also includes a kind of extracurricular session once a month at River Gods in Central Square, the first of which takes place January 26: “I’ll be playing across the entire syllabus, connecting Stockhausen to Kraftwerk to Cybotron to Afrika Bambaataa to baile funk.” That boom you just heard was our mind exploding.