The University of Rochester has established an Institute for Popular Music that aims to treat the study of popular genres as seriously as classical music.
The university announced the institute on Monday, with its founding director, John Covach, noting the approach is both traditional and revolutionary because it applies methods of analysis in musicology to provide a better understanding of popular music’s impact on society.
“When people ‘see’ popular music they often think of celebrities and bubblegum pop music. But we mean ‘popular music’ in a much broader sense,” Covach said.
Covach worked with seven faculty members from UR and an advisory board of 13 professors from the United States and United Kingdom to develop programs that support research in fields such as musicology, music theory, ethnomusicology and music performance.
“The focus of the institute is to support and encourage academic studies in popular music in the form of lectures, books and articles,” he said. “But we also want to support the performance aspects of this music, since making music is an integral part of studying it.”
In addition to partnering with the faculty in the UR’s music department, the institute will complement the expertise at Eastman School of Music. The institute initially will support five existing majors and programs at the university and will add courses to the 25 in place, officials said.
Covach said he hopes the institute will be used as a model for other institutions to promote the study of popular music within academia.
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