In tune with music at MIT

From beatmatching to music gaming, the Lewis Music Library supports music education in creative new ways

photo of DJ beatmatching

Photo by: Christopher Harting

A young crowd gathered around a turntable, as sounds of 70’s hits re-mixed with the latest dance beats pumped out of speakers. You might have thought you were in a club, if it weren’t for the stacks of books and scores all around. It was the Lewis Music Library hosting “DJing at a Glance: The History of Beatmatching with Mmmmaven’s General Motor.”

The DJ event brought in four MIT classes studying topics ranging from American popular music, to music and technology. Gareth Middlebrook (aka DJ General Motor) demonstrated DJ technology, beatmatching, and vinyl mixing to a full house of enthralled students.

“DJ General Motor’s talk on the history of [beatmatching] gave me a new appreciation and respect for the art of DJing. Combining vinyl and traditional DJ techniques is a difficult endeavor, and requires not only the ability to correctly match beats and understand music, but also physical skills and muscle memory for working with the vinyl,” student Carolyn Joseph said.

The event was one of several ways the music library is supporting MIT classes in creative new ways.

“We’re interested in bringing in new types of media and programming. This is the direction we want to go in,” Music Librarian, Peter Munstedt said.

This semester the library is working with MIT alumnus Eran Egozy, SB/SM ’95, developer of the popular games Guitar Hero and Rock Band. Egozy is teaching Interactive Music Systems, a hands-on programming and design course that explores audio synthesis, musical structure, and human/computer interfaces as parts of interactive musical experiences. The library reconfigured its group viewing room and installed new equipment to support the class. A Guitar Hero guitar is also available to students taking the class.

According to Munstedt, collaborating with classes and offering events, increases awareness of all the library’s resources. The music library offers as many as eight events a semester ranging from class-specific offerings, to composer forums, and open mics that attract musicians, and music fans, from across the MIT community.

“There’s a misconception out there that we’re only about classical music,” Munstedt said. “When students see everything we offer, both in the library and online, they’re amazed.”