Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Sex, Drugs, and Rock-n-Roll, without the first two

I just read an article about John Covach in the latest University of Rochester Review. The focus of the article was on the History of Rock and Analysis of Rock classes that Covach teaches at the U of R's River Campus. It sparked a thought that perhaps I could teach a History of Rock class for Winter Term this coming year. I had been thinking about teaching a course on Music in the Lord of the Rings. This course would include the myriad songs Tolkien includes in the books, settings of these songs by various composers, and the music of the films. It would fit nicely with the experiential focus of Winter Term courses, where we could sit around listening to music and discussing the settings, watching the films and discussing the use of music, and perhaps even having the students compose their own settings of LOTR songs. The issue would be in making it academically rigorous enough, finding articles and other sources to guide the students and myself in digging deep into the poetry and music.

John Covach has written a textbook for History of Rock classes, which has been well reviewed. And this course would still allow for experiential learning through field trips to live acts in Bloomington and Indianapolis. The problem with this course is that I am not well versed in Rock music past about 1990. I have been slowly educating myself through various blog references, but the average pop music post by Chad Orzel leaves me way in the dust.

My third choice would be to have an interactive reading of Gödel, Escher, Bach, which could possibly include meeting Hofstadter in person since he lives in Bloomington. And that book ties together all sorts of liberal artsy ideas: cognition, computer science, music, art, mathematics, philosophy. But it doesn't sound as exciting as the other two courses.

So, which course do you think I should teach, and why?


Adam Baratz said...

Ha, they ended up quoting me in that Covach article.

Scott Spiegelberg said...

I saw that! For those that don't subscribe to Rochester Review (and I can't imagine why you don't) the money quote is: "He's amiable and open to alternative hearings from his own," says student Adam Baratz '07. "I like his willingness to play excerpts and different interpretations of them on his guitar. Every other theory class I've taken has stuck to the blackboard for working out problems."

I can only say that it is difficult to drag an orchestra into the classroom to demonstrate different interpretations of Schoenberg's Op. 31. And students complain when I break out the accordian.

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