Clive Davis Institute x Berlin: Future Pop Music Studies

Come learn about - and help create - the future of global popular music in Europe's most exciting, vibrant metropolis.

PROGRAM OVERVIEW

Currently experiencing a major renaissance, Berlin is a historic world capital and an electrifying cultural center for artistic creativity. The city has long been an inspirational haven for artists from all over the world, and in the aftermath of its 20th century political turbulence and upheaval, Berlin boasts relatively affordable rent and a vibrant nightlife scene featuring world-class clubs like Berghain and Tresor. Having long attracted and inspired American musicians like Lou Reed and British artists like David Bowie, Berlin has a distinct and mythic musical history.

Drawing on the strengths of Berlin as a multicultural world capital and a preeminent destination for a wide range of musical and sonic innovation, the Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music has created a unique and groundbreaking study abroad program that focuses on pop music experimentalism and the avant-garde. We push the envelope to consider the future of music production, business, technology and emergent media, performance, songwriting and journalism.

You will be able to learn about the fascinating past, present and future of music making in Germany and Europe at large, and you’ll be able to practice your craft and learn about the arts and emergent media scene while meeting and working with influential Berlin-based industry professionals. 

Note: This fall program is only open to Recorded Music majors. Non-Recorded Music majors may request enrollment in courses a la carte, pending available space. Information on how to request enrollment may be found in the note section of each course in Albert.

CURRICULUM

Students must enroll in core program courses, as well as additional complementary liberal arts or elective courses, in order to complete a full-time, 16-credit semester.

Students are required to take: 

  1. German Language (4-6 units)
  2. REMU-UT 9810 Conversations in the Global Music Business: From Cryptocurrency to Big Data to Surviving the Future
  3. A music history/writing course.  Depending on the year, the course will be either:
    -REMU-UT 9811 Popular Music in Germany (2 units)
    OR
    -REMU-UT 9817 Classic Albums: The Berlin/Germany Edition (2 units)

PLUS, 8 additional units that may be fulfilled with any of the below elective courses or other liberal arts or elective courses offered via NYU-Berlin.

Please Note: Students studying abroad on a Tisch track are not eligible to pursue an internship (except for Theatre in Ghana and Television Writing in London). Tisch programs do not provide work visas.

German Language

4-6 units | Required

All students studying in Berlin are required to take a German language course (or course taught in German) for graded credit. This course cannot be taken Pass/Fail.

This course will count towards General Education - International for ReMu majors.

Conversations in the Global Music Business: From Cryptocurrency to Big Data to Surviving the Future

REMU-UT 9810 | 2 units | Instructor: Mat Dryhurst

This course will count towards the required core Business Electives for ReMu majors.

With sales of more than 1.3 billion, the German recorded music market is the third largest in the world: it is larger than the UK music market and behind only the USA and Japan. Beyond just numbers, the Berlin music business is unique: it’s home to hundreds of powerful independent and D.I.Y. record labels; it’s historically been ground zero for innovative electronic and dance music; and it’s a burgeoning tech hub for innovative software/hardware companies like Native Instruments, Ableton and Soundcloud. In this colloquium series, students will meet and hear each week from key creative entrepreneurial figures and innovators in the German and European music business.

This course has several purposes. First, students will consider how ongoing economic and technological changes might be impacting the worldwide music business, as speakers discuss controversial trends like the rise of cryptocurrency, block chain and cashless systems, customization technologies like 3D printing and developments in robotics, and radical, disruptive approaches to copyright. Second, students will develop a greater understanding of the chief similarities and differences between the traditional European and US music business operations, particularly with regard to label operations, publishing and copyright, touring and festivals, and nightlife promotion.

Third, students will become more informed about the D.I.Y.  music business in Berlin itself, as they hear from speakers about the promises and challenges one faces in launching innovative music start ups in Germany. And finally, students will get to meet and network with key movers and shakers in the Berlin scene, past and present. In anticipation for a guest class visit, students may be required to investigate websites, read biographical or contextual material, or attend events outside of class time. Students will be expected to ask informed questions of the guests and to develop responses throughout the course of the class.

Students should leave the class with a greater understanding of how the European and German music businesses work and how they themselves might make a business or sales impact on a global scale. 

Classic Albums: The Berlin/Germany Edition

REMU-UT 9817 | 2 units | Heiko Hoffmann

This course will count towards the required core Writing, History, & Emergent Media Electives for ReMu majors.

A classic album is one that has been deemed by many —or even just a select influential few — as a standard bearer within or without its genre. In this class—a companion to the Classic Albums class offered in New York—we will look and listen at a selection of classic albums recorded in Berlin, or recorded in Germany more broadly, and how the city/country shaped them – from David Bowie's famous Berlin trilogy from 1977 – 79 to Ricardo Villalobos' minimal house masterpiece Alcachofa. We will deconstruct the music, the production and the marketing of these albums, putting them in full social and political context and exploring the range of reasons why they have garnered classic status. Artists, producers and engineers involved in the making of these albums will be invited to discuss their seminal works with the students. Indeed, Along the way learn about consider the history of German electronic music. We will particularly look at how electronic music developed in Germany before the advent of house and techno in the late 1980s as well as the arrival of Techno, a new musical movement, and new technology in Berlin and Germany in the turbulent years after the Fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, up to the present. As students listed to classic albums, they’ll consider Berlin’s slow transformation from divided city in those anarchic and pioneering days of the early 1990s into the bustling, world-class nightlife capital it is today—alongside the changing and controversial cultural and socio-economic landscape of the city, and how Berlin continues to retain its uncompromising, avant-garde ethos.

On one hand, the phrase “classic albums” suggests pre-eminent status, high standards, top quality. On the other hand, the term classic can infer elitism and exclusion, and, too often, the work of white male rock artists is often venerated in this tradition at the expense of women and people of color subjects.  Given that what gets constituted as “classic” or “canonical” is a vexed issue in popular music, as it is in literature and other fields, this class will also look at non-traditional classics, and “good bad” albums that were once critically panned — as well as albums by women that might be easily reclassified as “classic” especially if we interrogate the criteria used to make the assessments in the first place. Students will be expected to write a final research paper drawing on issues discussed in class and in the readings.

Popular Music in Germany

REMU-UT 9811 | 2 units | Heiko Hoffmann

This course will count towards the required core Writing, History, & Emergent Media Electives for ReMu majors.

From Karlheinz Stockhausen and Kraftwerk to D.A.F. and the Euro disco of Snap! – the first seven weeks of class considers the history of German electronic music prior to the Fall of the Wall. We will particularly look at how electronic music developed in Germany before the advent of house and techno in the late 1980s. One focus will be on regional scenes such as the Düsseldorf school of electronic in the 1970s with music groups such as Cluster, Neu! And Can, the Berlin school of synthesizer pioneers like Tangerine Dream, Klaus Schulze and Manuel Göttsching or Giorgio Moroder's Sound of Munich. Visits will be made to experience Oskar Sala's Trautonium - an early proto-synthesizer with which he created the sounds for Hitchcock's The Birds - at the Musikinstrumenten Museum and the location of the Zodiak Free Arts Lab, an experimental club founded by Conrad Schnitzler and Hans-Joachim Roedelius. Students will be expected to competently identify key musicians and recordings of this creative period.

The second half of the course looks more specifically at the arrival of Techno, a new musical movement, and new technology in Berlin and Germany in the turbulent years after the Fall of the Berlin Wall, up to the contemporary moment. Indeed, Post-Wall East Berlin, full of abandoned spaces and buildings and deserted office blocks, was the perfect breeding ground for the youth culture that would dominate the 90s and led Techno pioneers and artists from the East and the West to take over and set up shop. Within a short space of time Berlin became the focal point of a new culture, attracting enthusiastic followers from all over the world to clubs such as ‘Tresor’ and ‘E-Werk’. Among those early techno aficionados were writers, artists, photographers, musicians and fashion designers. Techno quickly developed into a lifestyle and mass movement, finding its most exhilarating expression in the Love Parade and, recently, the club/movement Berghain.

As students consider Berlin’s slow transformation from divided city in those anarchic and pioneering days of the early 90s into the bustling, world-class nightlife capital it is today, they will also consider the changing and controversial cultural and socio-economic landscape of the city, and how Berlin continues to retain its uncompromising, avant-garde ethos. Students will be expected to write final research paper drawing on issues discussed in class and in the readings.

Creative Experiments with Emerging Music Technologies

REMU-UT 9815 | 2 units | Instructor: TBD

This course will count towards the required core Technology Elective for ReMu majors.

This unique course introduces students to innovative and cutting-edge technologies of sound, video, and interfaces that are changing the way music is performed, produced and received. Music and creative technologies have shifted in the last years from preset-focused black-box devices to open and hackable hard- and software. Examples are MaxMSP (Ableton), the Kinect Motion sensor, VR Platforms or open source music instruments like Korg’s Mono series, little bits or bastl. This shift enables artists today to understand the inner workings of instruments better and engage a very different working process: these days, devices can more easily be created and manipulated, forming future tools and creating a rich variety of different media.

The course consists of both a theoretical and a hands-on part, and has a workshop component.

No special knowledge like programming or electronic skills is presupposed. As this course is intended for students from different disciplines, the content will flexibly be adapted to the level of knowledge of the students, especially for students with little or no technical background.

Experiments in the Future of Producing

REMU-UT 9814 | 2 units | Instructor: Robert Lippok

Pre-requisite: REMU-UT 1004 Producing the Record: Side B, with a grade of C or better or comparable course. This course will count towards Recorded Music electives.

Contemporary sound production is often based on pre-designed workflows in virtual software environments that merely provide standardized results. Moreover, while aiming for the perfect acoustic image, many commercial producers tend to treat sound as if it were a stable art form.

The purpose of this advanced production class is to deconstruct the art of record producing and to expose students to radical musical and studio experimentation, especially given Germany’s role in radicalizing music and sound in the 20th century. Students will get a glimpse into the history and present of experimental composing, recording and performance.

As the instructor Jan St. Werner gives insight into his acclaimed working process, students will learn how accidents can be the foundation of new musical genres. They will learn about the history of renaissance experiments in spatial music (which, in a way, mark the beginnings of modern artistic play on perspective). If time permits, students will be given an introduction to experimental approaches to hacking, instrument building and software abuse, as well as learn how everyday experimentation can be essential to their recording and performance routines. An array of analogue gear and microphones will be incorporated into in-class sessions, and the class will collectively jam using electronic and other sound devices to understand how individual expression can be essential to the creativity of the group as a whole.

For the final class project, students will work collectively on an audio installation using D&B speakers. As the idea of recorded musical products must be much more flexible and fluid in the age of streaming and other dephysicalized technologies, we will work toward the aforementioned idea that sound is an unstable art form. The product is the merchandise, but the idea is the original — this has held true for the history of recorded music in the 20th and 21st centuries. Throughout the course, students will have to continually ask themselves the following questions: Where does my music fit in? What is its context? Which ecosystem do I want to be a part of and how can I contribute to its discourse?

Experiments in the Future of Performing

REMU-UT 9818 | 2 units | Instructor: Colin Self

Pre-requisite: REMU-UT 1326 Performance Essentials: Pop Singing Techniques and REMU-UT 1327 Performance Essentials: Introduction to Stagecraft, both with a grade of C or better or comparable course. This course will count towards Recorded Music electives.

The purpose of this workshop is to expose students to forward-thinking ways to conceive of creative approaches to performing. As the traditional global recorded music economy has diminished over the last two decades, live performance and touring has become an increasingly important and primary source of income for recording artists.

As a result, the twenty-first century finds us on a new horizon with regard to the vanguard of contemporary performance. This course will allow participants the opportunity to explore the cannon of cutting-edge contemporary performance, from the avant garde foundations of the twentieth century expressions in theatre, performance, and music, to the latest advances in current popular performance presentation.

The class focuses on building new forms for live music performance: students will work with their instructor to take creative risks and experiment toward developing new techniques for presenting original music. Accompanied by lectures that weave together performance history, somatic awareness, contemporary music politics, and new technologies, students will be required to present in-class “works in progress” presentations that challenge the conventions of live music performance. In-class performances will be followed by group dialogue and critique, evaluating each students ability to take risks, challenge themselves, and incorporate new ideas into their practice. Students will consider the value of incorporating somatic tools and emergent technology into their performances, as they conceptualize and contextualize their work in larger narrative arcs that create cohesive story for their songs, exploring visual elements through live video manipulation of appropriate found imagery. The course will conclude with a final concert performance for the general public that demonstrates creative growth and risk-taking that has been investigated throughout the course of the semester. The semester will end with this final concert and a concluding session to review final projects and assess the results of the final concert.

This course is appropriate for students who already have some studio production experience, as well as performers at various levels of experience

Experiential Learning Seminar

NODEP-UA 9982 | 4 units

This course will count towards the Industry Internship requirement for Recorded Music majors.

This internship course is focused primarily on community placement. With the guidance of the instructor, students independently reflect on and formulate concepts relating directly to their community placement (normally, an internship or volunteer opportunity). The community placement, which the student actively participates in securing with guidance from the relevant site or professional personnel, falls within the area defined by the student ́s concentration and, as much as possible, relates to their individual academic interests.

The course provides students with eight seminars (full-class sessions and individual conference meetings) and support for their placement, as well as for the preparation of their final project. The seminars focus specifically on intercultural workplace skills, the exchange of project plans, the improvement of research, argumentation, and writing skills. 

Students must apply for the academic internship in Berlin. Students can access information about the internship, instructions, and the application here.

More About the Internship Seminar and Fieldwork

The Berlin Music Tech Start-Up Scene

REMU-UT 9813 | 2 units | Instructor: Matthias Stroebel

After its reunification, Berlin gained a well-deserved reputation as an anything-goes cultural playground. But that frontier has also been a hotbed for new ideas around music and technology. Berlin today is growing as two world capitals at once: as a hub for musicians for the concert and party scenes, and as the exploding European center for tech startups. Music technology is where those two overlap. That includes early pioneers, like Ableton and Native Instruments, more recent additions like Bitwig, and new crowd-funded startups like Soundbrenner, all as part of a wider European landscape that is headquarters to the likes of Spotify. Through intimate moderated conversations with entrepreneurs, innovators and artists who have built or developed new opportunities and enterprises in music technology, this class explores  what makes Berlin such a fertile ground for emergent technology and how business leaders have built and managed profitable businesses. Students will consider the professional musician environment overlaps with the music business, and how these lessons apply to their own professional aspirations. Students will be asked to read related material, ask informed questions in discussions, and potentially attend events outside class for additional context. Because of the dynamic nature of the class and Berlin's professional life, events, speakers, and assignments may be adjusted through the course of the term.

WHAT COURSES SHOULD YOU TAKE?

Depending upon your entrepreneurial focus within the Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music, enrollment in the following courses is suggested:

Business Focus

  1. German Language (4-6 units) - Required Course
  2. Conversations in the Global Music Business: From Cryptocurrency to Big Data to Surviving the Future (2 units) - Required Course
  3. Classic Albums: The Berlin/Germany Edition (2 units) - Required Course
  4. PLUS one elective, such as Creative Experiments with Emerging Music Technologies (2 units); Internship (4 units); AND/OR another General Education or Elective course via NYU-Berlin (4 units)
Browse NYU Berlin Courses

PRODUCTION FOCUS

  1. German Language (4-6 units) - Required Course
  2. Conversations in the Global Music Business: From Cryptocurrency to Big Data to Surviving the Future (2 units) - - Required Course 
  3. Classic Albums: The Berlin/Germany Edition (2 units) - Required Course
  4. Experiments in the Future of Producing (2 units) 
  5. PLUS one elective, such as Creative Experiments with Emerging Music Technologies (2 units) AND/OR another General Education or Elective course via NYU-Berlin (4 units)
Browse NYU Berlin Courses

PERFORMANCE/SONGWRITING FOCUS

  1. German Language (4-6 units) - Required Course 
  2. Conversations in the Global Music Business: From Cryptocurrency to Big Data to Surviving the Future (2 units) - Required Course 
  3. Classic Albums: The Berlin/Germany Edition (2 units) - Required Course
  4. PLUS two electives, such as Experiments in the Future of Performing (2 units); Creative Experiments with Emerging Music Technologies (2 units) AND/OR another General Education or Elective course via NYU-Berlin (4 units)
Browse NYU Berlin Courses

TECHNOLOGY FOCUS

  1. German Language (4-6 units) - Required Course
  2. Conversations in the Global Music Business: From Cryptocurrency to Big Data to Surviving the Future (2 units) - Required Course
  3. Classic Albums: The Berlin/Germany Edition (2 units) - Required Course
  4. Creative Experiments with Emerging Music Technologies (2 units) 
  5. PLUS one elective, such as Internship (4 units) AND/OR another General Education or Elective course via NYU-Berlin (4 units)
Browse NYU Berlin Courses

JOURNALIST FOCUS

  1. German Language (4-6 units) - Required Course
  2. Conversations in the Global Music Business: From Cryptocurrency to Big Data to Surviving the Future (2 units) - Required Course
  3. Classic Albums: The Berlin/Germany Edition (2 units) - Required Course
  4. PLUS two electives, such as Creative Experiments with Emerging Music Technologies (2 units); Internship (4 units) AND/OR another General Education or Elective course via NYU-Berlin (4 units)
Browse NYU Berlin Courses

Watch

2022-2023 CDI x Berlin Program Dates

— All students who are eligible to study abroad during the 2023-2024 academic year must submit this internal form by December 1, 2022 @ 11:59pm (EST).

— Any student who has applied to petition out of Study Abroad or petition to an alternate site is required to meet remotely with the Study Abroad Faculty Committee during the week of December 5; time and date to be scheduled.

— The Study Away Faculty Committee reviews applications and petitions. On December 15, 2022, the committee will announce which students have been accepted to the Berlin Priority Program for Fall 2023 and whose petitions to alternate locations and out of Study Abroad have been approved.


— NYU Global’s official application will go live, date TBD. All Study Abroad students need to fill out this official application by the February 15, 2023 deadline. It is especially important for students who are planning a non REMU study abroad semester in Fall 2023, and for students who hope to spend two semesters abroad.


February 15, 2023 to February 28, 2023 – Late Petition Period I for Study Abroad


March 1, 2023 to May 15, 2023 – Late Petition Period 2 for Study Abroad


May 16, 2023 to August 22, 2023 - Late Petition Period 3 for Study Abroad
 

Recorded Music Majors: Please note that study abroad is mandatory for all Recorded Music majors. Please contact remustudyaway@nyu.edu if you have any questions about the application process or the program. 

Note: Students should wait to receive their admissions notification and confirmation that the program is running prior to purchasing airline tickets. Students accepted to the program should purchase refundable airline tickets and/or travel insurance in the event the program is canceled or program dates are changed due to world events. It is strongly recommended that students purchase insurance for trip cancellation, flight cancellation, luggage loss or damage, as well as medical and accident coverage.

Expenses

  • Academic Year 2022-2023 Full-time Tuition, 12-18 unit flat rate per term: $29,084

Additional Fees Include:

  • Nonrefundable Registration and Services Fee
  • NYU Housing: Visit the NYU Berlin website for options and costs

Visit the Office of Global Programs for additional study abroad costs.

SCHOLARSHIPS & FINANCIAL AID

There are opportunities for financial assistance to study abroad.

For information about scholarships and financial aid, please review the Tisch Scholarships and Financial Aid for Study Abroad page and the NYU Study Away Costs and Financial Aid page.

HOUSING

Visit the NYU Berlin website for housing options and descriptions.