Friday, February 22, 2008

Underground Music Devalued at Colleges?

A piece from today's Columbia Spectator critiques Columbia University's lack of support for underground music, even though the school has impressive facilities and talented students and graduates. The author cites examples including lack of press coverage for the successful alum indie band Vampire Weekend, little support for renovations to their pioneering experimental music program, and limited practice space for bands. The author writes:

"...Columbia’s Electronic Music Center (today, the Computer Music Center) was not only the first of its kind in the country, but a... pioneer in largely experimental music. Many of the pieces created at the EMC debuted on WKCR, the first licensed FM radio station in the country. More recently, music sampled from the center found its way into Radiohead’s Idioteque. Today... the building housing the CMC...suffers from routine heat failures and a desperate need for renovations."

The piece also mentions that free-form campus radio with an emphasis on indie & underground music is off-campus at Barnard's station WBAR-FM (although Columbia does have a well-regarded radio station WKCR-FM).

Too bad about Columbia's situation. Unfortunately I bet this is a widespread problem that universities provide little support for experimental music programs. Are there schools that have an impressive track record as far as fostering underground music?

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