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Courses Taught

Since 2011, our work with Listening Spaces has served as the foundation of innovative classroom experiences that engage current issues of music-making at practical and theoretical levels.

What Was the Hip-Hop Generation? (Spring 2011 CMU) R. Purcell

This course will attempt to answer a simply stated but not so simply answered question: What is (or was) the “hip-hop” generation? For Bakari Kitwana it defines the first generation of African-American youth that grew up in post-segregation America. While useful, Kitwana’s definition is also quite provocative since many of the earliest practitioners (and consumers) of what would eventually be called “hiphop”
were not all African-Americans but Greeks, Puerto Ricans, Jews, Jamaicans, etc…, many of whom lived in America but also encountered hip-hop elsewhere on the planet. In our class we will take a broad, global perspective on the question of “what is/was the hip-hop generation” through scholarly and popular works by Kitwana. Jeff Chang, Tricia Rose and many others.

Interdisciplinary Studies in Music, Culture, and Technology (Fall 2013, Fall 2015, Fall 2016 CMU) R. Purcell, R. Randall

The proliferation of portable as well as computerized audio technologies has radically changed the way the human beings listen, consume, and produce music and sound. With the emergence of “cloud” storage services like Dropbox, Amazon, and Google you can effortlessly store and share music files anonymously or with friends. Services like Facebook, Pandora, Spotify,, Amazon, and iTunes use finely tuned algorithms to make musical recommendations and in the process further personalize your experience as a consumer of music. All of these services, many of which are virtual, have come to mediate our intensely personal and communal experiences with music. The Listening Spaces seminar seeks to understand the overwhelming impact these mediating technologies have had on our social, political and personal interactions with music. Foundational readings will include Jonathan Sterne’s MP3: The History of a Format, Alexander Galloway’s Gaming: Essays on Algorithmic Culture, Trebor Scholz’s Digital Labor: The Internet as Playground and Factory. The seminar will be focused around developing and completing critical projects that cross technological and humanistic boundaries.

The Hustle (Spring 2018 CMU) R. Randall

The Hustle is an introduction to DIY music-event production. The past 200 years have brought radical reconceptualizations of what music is and how it is practiced. Today, public music experiences often rely on notions of rivalry, excludability, and enforced musician/audience dichotomies. This seminar explores how public music events can be alternatively constructed around ideas of “public good” and “social affordance” and seeks ways to transcend received political economic relations between musician and audience. This seminar allows students to build a practical methodology for public music making built on critical research, case studies, and ethnographic analysis. This is a hands-on seminar and requires a commitment to participate in off-campus events culminating in a collectively realized real-world capstone project.