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Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - bologna.lab - Neue Lehre. Neues Lernen

Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin | bologna.lab | Projekte des bologna.labs | Berlin Perspectives | Lehrveranstaltungen | Wintersemester 2015/16 | Studying Popular Music with a Focus on Electronic Music Festivals in Berlin

Studying Popular Music with a Focus on Electronic Music Festivals in Berlin

Taught by Bianca Ludewig

Wednesday, 12:00 - 14:00, Hausvogteiplatz 5-7, Room 0323-26

Language requirements: min. English B2, German A1, as some readings will be in German



Course Description

This interdisciplinary course explores club cultures, electronic music scenes and their festivals. The seminar investigates Berlin as a traditional stronghold of the international electronic music scene. It will supply the participants with scientific tools (concepts, discourses, theories, methods) for researching popular music. Through different theories and case studies the students will investigate the complexity of electronic music as a highly organized and institutionalized cultural practice within a postmodern society. The seminar will involve approaches from fields like anthropology, musicology, organizational studies and cultural studies. The students will learn how to apply ethnographic empirical research methods (participant observation, fieldnotes, memos, interviews). Those methods will be applied and practiced in class, teams and groups.
Towards the end of the semester we will examine music festivals as cultural practice. This will include a focus on the festival Club Transmediale (CTM) in Berlin, which is one of the oldest European festivals for electronic and experimental music; takes place annually at the end of January. The class will visit the CTM exhibition and discourse program or club night. Students will be able to present their research outcomes at the CTM Education Networking Day.
The exhibition is free of admission. The discourse program might charge an admission fee of max. 5€ for the day. There are also some free concerts. Those students who would like to research at a CTM clubnight or other concert have to consider a budget of 15€.
The students will conduct a short field study on one of the many institutions in Berlin dealing with the electronic music scene (club, label, media, agency, festival or other institution). And will do a seminar input on a special scene/ genre of electronic music (can be combined). The aim is to do a series of group presentations at the CTM Education Networking Day.


Course Requirements

  • Active participation in class discussions and group works. Including Text reading in advance of seminar-sessions, preparing a discussion questions or comment. Total: 1 ECTS.
  • Fieldtrip/ fieldwork: Participation in a group/ team research - presentation on a field site of choice (berlin based music institution) or music genre relevant to the seminar (1 ECTS). And participation in the field trip to CTM festival: attending events, taking fieldnotes or conduction interviews. Group/ team presentation on research outcome (1 ECTS). Total: 2 ECTS
  • Assignments: 1 abstract/ summary on method or case study, 1 essay on key text, 1 report on berlin based institution, 1 glossary/ dictionary. (the glossary on terms, theories and concepts is written during the semester. An extra sheet will consist of a dictionary - consisting of key terms for our research field in English and German. This will be worked on during class in groups or in team work). Total: 2 ECTS
  • Assessment by portfolio. Assignments for portfolio: Glossary on terms, theories and concepts (2-3 pages)/ vocabulary (1-2 pages). 1 essay on theory key text or electronic music genre (3-4 pages). 1 abstract/ summary (1 page) on case study or ethnographic method. CTM research summary (2-4 pages); report on Berlin based institution (2-4 pages); the summary or report on field research should include 1 excerpt of fieldnotes or interview transcripts (max. 3 pages).
    Note: Portfolio assignments can be written in English or German (suitable assignments for students with more German knowledge).



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  • Bogdanov, Vladimir: All Music Guide to Electronica: The Definitive Guide to Electronic Music. Backbeat 2001.
  • Bonz, Jochen: Subjekte des Tracks: Ethnografie einer postmodernen/ anderen Subkultur. Kadmos 2008.
  • Brabazon, Tara: Popular Music. Topics, Trends, Trajectories. London, Sage Publications 2012.
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