Electronic Music Thrives at Cogswell College
Late last spring we shared information about some of the unique classes available to Cogswell students over the Summer and “Ultimate Electronic Music Production” was one of them.
Now that it is winding down for this term, we would like give you a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the class, which was a combination of research, practical learning and great fun. This video demonstrates the amazing opportunity electronic musicians have when they study at Cogswell.
“The main focus of the class is to teach the ideology and culture behind electronic music, and not focus on any particular style. I wanted to create an overview of compositional and musical sound design approaches and processes, go beyond just sharing tips and tricks, and let students develop their own, original methods that they can apply to any electronic music project. Another major consideration was to give students some experience with using the tools of a working electronic music studio via various hands-on assignments,” said Julius Dobos, Distinguished Lecturer at Cogswell.
The class did spend time listening to Musique Concrete works, Jarre and Kraftwerk albums, followed by one of their assignments where students had to create a Kraftwerk sound-alike piece – not recreate a particular song, but apply the unique style to a brand new composition. Kraftwerk was a German quartet that laid the groundwork for most electronic- and synth-based artists that followed them in the 1970’s and 1980’s and even today. Students started with a blank canvas, designed their own sounds and used them to composed the music as a group.
The primary takeaway Dobos hopes students receive from this course is "the discovery of an unexpected diversity in this segment of musical art which we call Electronic Music. It’s not a style, but an ever-evolving combination of compositional, musical sound design and intellectual elements. Understanding and recreating the approaches from historic to modern, learning about the evolution of music technology and the pioneers of electronic music, including those lesser known in the United States, would greatly expand the creative horizon of any composer – not to mention Cogswell's talented students with a particular interest in electronic music."
“I took the class to widen my skill set and palette,” said student, Robert Kirby. “The class looked like a great way to expand my understanding of the genre. The advantage of electronic music is the wide range of sounds at your fingertips. Using the synthesizers I achieved some pretty cool things. I was happy with the class after the first assignment.”
Besides teaching at Cogswell, Mr. Dobos is the Founding Composer of The Creative Shop, a music production studio with a clientele that has included Sony Entertainment, The Discovery Channel, Nokia and other high-profile clients. Having been composing since age 9, Mr. Dobos has released seven musical albums in various electronic music styles, among them the platinum-selling Connecting Images. His music has been featured in major motion pictures including You Don’t Mess with the Zohan, Paul Blart: Mall Cop, Zookeeper, as well as a variety of television programs, advertising campaigns, exhibitions and sound installations in the United States and Europe. In 2012, Dobos was invited to move his vast Studio CS to Cogswell to give students access to a level of equipment that many professionals only dream about. Some of the synthesizers are truly unique pieces, such as the rare Crumar Spirit (one of the 260 units ever built), the Ensoniq Fizmo, and the coveted Yamaha CS-60. (Check out the Studio CS equipment list.)
"It's actually not the gear, but the concept that really matters. Technology can be impressive and even overwhelming, but there is no substitute for meaning & feel when it comes to textures and sounds.
More than being the core part of my career, electronic music has been my passion for as long as I can remember – I have been living and working in the world of sounds and music for close to three decades. Sharing this world and my passion within the structure of a special topic course with a select group of students who have expressed a deep interest in electronic music, seemed like a unique opportunity for them and was a great new experience for me as well.”
“Julius knows everything there is to know about electronic music so working with him was a chance to work with a master, plus the chance to experiment on all this amazing equipment,” said student, Daniel McFarren.