Thornton school to offer new electronic dance music course

Electronic music has invaded the mainstream music charts and USC appears to have taken note.

Electric · A new Thornton course will focus on the historical and visual aspects of electronic dance music. It will be offered next fall.  - Courtesy of Shauna Regan/MCT

Electric · A new Thornton course will focus on the historical and visual aspects of electronic dance music. It will be offered next fall. – Courtesy of Shauna Regan/MCT


The Thornton School of Music will offer a new course,  “Electronic Dance Music” (MUSC 499) in the fall. The course will present a comprehensive look at the history and development of the electronic music genre.

Thornton School of Music Dean Robert Cutietta said the new course reflects Thornton’s ability to respond to rapidly evolving music trends.

“We are constantly reevaluating our classes to keep up with the times,” Cutietta said in a statement to the Daily Trojan. “I am very excited to be part of a music school that is so nimble and quick to adapt to the times and reinvent itself in response to changes in our art form.”

Cutietta said he hopes the course, which will be offered to all students including non-music majors, will attract students from other schools of the university to Thornton.

“We take very seriously our mission to provide relevant and meaningful musical experiences to the USC students who are not music majors,” Cutietta said.

In 2009, Thornton introduced the Popular Music degree program. After having success in that program, Thornton decided to introduce additional popular music classes.

“In concert with [the Popular Music program], we are trying to expand our offerings to [non-music majors] who are also interested in studying the cultural and historical aspects of popular music,” said Joanna Demers, the chair of Thornton’s musicology department.

Demers said the course will take a chronological approach in examining EDM.

“Each week we will present a different focus,” Demers said. “We’ll be starting off with the history of German electronic music, and then we’ll make our way into the ‘70s with groups like Kraftwerk, and then look at disco and other dance music genres.”

Along with reading assignments, students will be assigned frequent listening assignments. Reflecting the multifaceted nature of EDM, the course will also focus on the visual aspects of EDM.

“It’s a very easy time to teach this because so much of the material is available on YouTube,” Demers said. “I don’t think this sort of course would have been possible five years ago just because there wasn’t nearly the video documentation available then that we have today at our fingertips. It’s really going to be a very multimedia experience.”

Demers also said the course offering will be unique for a music school of Thornton’s stature.

“I think this type of course is revolutionary and original,” Demers said. “It takes some of the same questions that have been asked about hip-hop and rock ‘n’ roll music and are now being applied to electronic dance music.”

The course in electronic dance music will be taught by Sean Nye, who completed a dissertation on electronic music at the University of Minnesota and will be coming to USC after winning a highly competitive postdoctoral fellowship.

Ehren Elder, a freshman majoring in philosophy, politics and law, noted that although he is not a musician, he found the course appealing.

“I don’t think of myself as being particularly talented at music, but I would be willing to try these classes for the sake of a music education,” Elder said.

And Michael Nguyen, a freshman majoring in human biology, noted the class could be useful for better understanding the popular electronic music genre.

“This seems like a great opportunity for someone looking to explore the background of one of the most popular music trends today,” Nguyen said. “It looks very interesting.”


7 replies
  1. Your Parents
    Your Parents says:

    Before you go wasting my money (your parents) and your time on a course that will absolutely not benefit you in the future, lie down, think about how hard you want to be the next super star dj, and let that feeling pass. Elder and Nguyen, watch a freakin documentary about this stuff in your free time, or read a book on the topic. This is not a topic that requires classroom discussion and debate. Thornton is a cash cow for this school. What a waste of resources.

    • A
      A says:

      What makes the history of EDM less important than the history of any other genre of music? I’m taking the class not only because it fulfills a requirement for my minor, but also because I know I will be interested in the topic and it will be worthwhile for my entrance into the music industry later on. Watching “a freakin documentary” or reading a book will not give the same learning experience as being in a classroom environment with a knowledgable teacher.

  2. Angeles Rihner
    Angeles Rihner says:

    Thanks for your information on this blog. One particular thing I wish to say is that purchasing electronic products items on the Internet is nothing new. The truth is, in the past decade alone, the marketplace for online consumer electronics has grown a great deal. Today, you will find practically almost any electronic system and product on the Internet, which include cameras in addition to camcorders to computer parts and gaming consoles.

    • Someone Who Has Never Been on the Internet
      Someone Who Has Never Been on the Internet says:

      Thank you Angeles Rihner. That’s some great information. I had no idea that I could buy a camcorder on the Internet, let alone that the marketplace for such incredible technology had grown a great deal since 2003. If you have any more information on what we can do on the Internet, I know I speak for all of the DT’s readers when I say please, please keep us updated.

      This class looks sick.

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