Freedom to Study Across Musical Disciplines

July 12, 2022

Hip-Hop Culture and Digital Practice (MUS-202) uses the tools and language of contemporary hip-hop to help you better understand both the music and its cultural context. From day one, you’ll be immersed in the study, creation, and performance of music with an African American aesthetic and production style that is frequently underrepresented in academia.

Professors Mark Laver and John Rommereim collaboratively designed the course to focus on learning from and about hip-hop culture, blending ethnomusicology and composition, and keeping the music and culture at the core of the course materials, Laver says. The course is intended for all students, regardless of previous musical experience or skill.

Combining cultural study with the study of sound will allow you to better understand both aspects; by studying historical context while also emulating the creative practices of different key artists from different points in time, you’ll get a vivid sense of how artists use their art to make sense of their world and to carve out a place for themselves within it.

At many institutions, the study of music tends to be siloed along disciplinary lines, Laver says, meaning that faculty and student music makers seldom get to collaborate with music theorists or historians. However, Grinnell’s music faculty move freely among areas of study, often drawing on multiple areas within the same class. Hip-Hop Culture and Digital Practice embraces this spirit of freedom across disciplines and meshes it with intentional design, Laver says. It is an excellent example of the liberal arts ethos of Grinnell College, in which you will develop critical thinking and analytical skills, the ability to solve complex problems, and an understanding of ethics and morality, as well as a desire to continue to learn across the academic disciplines.

Hip-Hop Culture and Digital Practice will empower you to create music and more fully understand the material. This hands-on approach will encourage you to explore the environment that shapes the music you are studying. By creating your own digital music, you will connect with the music department’s dynamic community of learners, all studying and developing skills together.

Learn more about studying music at Grinnell

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