New Course Spotlight: Special Topics in Music: The Music of Prince

Curriculum explores the music and career of one of the greatest musicians of his generation

The Music department at Inver Hills Community College is offering a new course for fall semester 2023 called Special Topics in Music: The Music of Prince. The curriculum covers the music, career, and legacy of Prince, widely considered a musical genius and one of the greatest recording artists and performers of his generation. The course will be taught by Andrew Martin, PhD, music faculty at the college.

“I created the course because we have such a vibrant music scene in the Twin Cities,” Dr. Martin said, “and it’s been this way for more than fifty years. I wanted to be able to connect Inver Hills students from the classroom to their community. I’ve been talking for years about all the great musical happenings in the Twin Cities and, with the new Paisley Park museum and other recent developments, it’s a great time to teach a course that can explore these resources. We had a globally famous musician from our region who continued to live in the region after his initial ascension to stardom—and that says a lot about Prince and the Twin Cities.”

Dr. Martin added that Prince emerged during a period in the music industry in the 1970s and 1980s where black artists were struggling to cross over to pop from the music genres of R&B, funk, and soul.

“One of Prince’s many important legacies was his ability to create pop-oriented music,” he said, “and, frankly, to be a pop star during a time in which the music industry—including his own record label—resisted such efforts from black artists. This course, among other things, will explore the cultural and musical factors that led to and resulted from Prince’s music.”

The course will host several guest appearances/lectures by former Prince collaborators, including musicians, audio engineers, former bandmates, community members, and local music media from The Current, Star Tribune, and City Pages, as well as nationally known Prince scholars from academia.

“Schedule permitting, students will embark on excursions throughout the Twin Cities to Prince sites of interest such as the artist’s former home studio at  Paisley Park,” Dr Martin said.

The Life of Prince will be taught as a HyFlex course, giving students the ability to attend class and lectures in person or synchronously online via Zoom or as a combination of both.

“I will teach every class from a classroom at Inver Hills and will also broadcast every class on Zoom,” Dr. Martin said. “Students can choose what method of course delivery suits their needs/learning styles and can change their approach throughout the semester. All course lectures will be recorded and archived for students to review.”

This course counts as a Minnesota Transfer Curriculum (MnTC) Goal 6 and/or Goal 8 elective. The course would also count as an elective for students pursuing the A.F.A. in Music.

Special Topics in Music: The Music of Prince

Paisley Park • SOURCE: Paisley Park/NPG Records

Course description

This 3-credit  course explores the music and career of the popular musician Prince and its relationship to topical issues in American culture and the music industry. In addition to classroom lectures, this course will host guest appearances/lectures of former Prince collaborators (musicians, audio engineers, etc.) and students will (schedule permitting) embark on excursions throughout the Twin Cities to Prince cites of interest such as the artist’s former home studio Paisley Park.

Students will gain experience in popular music analysis and independent research while exploring and documenting the diverse musical and cultural expressions influence present in the Twin Cities that contributed to Prince’s music legacy. Prior musical training, while helpful, is not required for this course.

Andrew Martin, PhD

Andrew Martin, PhD
Andrew Martin, PhD

An alumnus of the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, Andrew Martin has a Ph.D. in Musicology/Ethnomusicology, an M.A. in Musicology, and an M.M. in Percussion Performance. He completed his undergraduate work at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay. In 2011, he served as an academic fellow at the Arbeitskreis Studium Populärer Musik held at the Institute for Musicology and Music Pedagogy, Osnabruck, Germany.

At Inver Hills, Dr. Martin teaches courses in music history, music analysis and percussion. He also directs the Inver Hills African Drum and Dance Ensemble and the Inver Hills Steelband Ensemble.

Dr. Martin’s extensive research is centered on the theory and analysis of American popular music as well as various aspects of Afro-Caribbean music and its phenomenal dissemination throughout North America and around the globe. His chief focus investigates the development of Trinidadian steelbands and pannists outside of Trinidad and Tobago.

Dr. Martin has lectured and presented all over the world, including the U.S., Canada, Europe, China, and the Caribbean. His research has appeared in journals such as American Music, Pan Podium: The Journal of the British Steel Band Society and The Journal of New York Folklore as well as The Grove Dictionary of American Music. His book, Steelpan Ambassadors: The US Navy Steel Band, 1957–1999, was published in 2017.

In addition to scholarship and teaching, Dr. Martin is an accomplished live performer of non-Western and Western music. He has shared the stage with many amateur and professional performing ensembles, including:

  • Petrotrin Hatters Steelband (Trinidad and Tobago)
  • St. Paul Chamber Orchestra
  • Renegade New Music Ensemble
  • PanMN Steelband
  • Sinatra Review Big Band
  • Prague Chamber Symphony
  • Slovak Radio Chorus
Dr. Martin has performed at a number of prestigious events, including:
  • Percussive Arts International Convention
  • Minnesota and Wisconsin Music Educators Conventions
  • SEAMUS (Society of Electro-Acoustic Music) Festival
  • SPARK Festival of Electronic Music and Arts
  • Society for Ethnomusicology Annual Meeting
Learn more about steelpan by reading the following articles by Andrew Martin, PhD:

Learn more about Special Topics in Music: The Music of Prince course offering at Inver Hills by contacting:

Andrew R. Martin, PhD
Music Faculty
Inver Hills Community College

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