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What I've Learned, | Jan 04, 2014

Andy Hollinden, music history professor


From rock 'n' roll performer to rock 'n' roll professor, Andy Hollinden shares what he's learned from the best of music.


Andy Hollinden, a native of Tell City, is a professional musician, composer and producer and has released eight of his own albums. In 1989, his musical experience led him to his next big gig at Indiana University where he took to a different stage--the front of a classroom. Since then, the laid-back, long-haired professor has developed and taught a variety of popular classes on Jimi Hendrix, The Beach Boys and Frank Zappa, among others. Andy shares some words of wisdom that truly rock.

Rock should be an artistic attitude, not just a word.

I think rock is just more of an attitude based upon excitement and aggression. People use the term rock these days just to mean good. They'll say, "Man, this fish taco rocks" or "Man, your marching band, you guys rock!" when it really has nothing to do with rock at all. The term rock has gotten so diluted, and the concept of being a rock musician seems more like an occupation than a person doing art.

It all comes down to the song.

What makes a well-written song is applicable across the centuries. There's a certain balance, there's a certain form--melodic things, chord progressions--that make for a well-written song. The Beatles did that. I think from a purely music theory standpoint, people can look at the Beatles' songs and realize why "Yesterday" was a work of genius. The sounds they were creating and documenting on their records was art in itself. A great song that broke into new sonic territories coupled with a physical stage presence or personality seared these things into the public consciousness.

There's no longer a generation gap with music.

A lot of kids I talk to these days have pleasant memories of sharing music with their parents. I think that's more of a phenomenon of, say, the last 20 or 30 years maybe. There are certain bands whose appeal seems universal and doesn't seem to dwindle--the Beatles, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Queen. I see tons and tons of students who will tell you that that's their favorite music.

Having an open mind will enrich your appreciation for all kinds of music.

My belief, musically, is that there is a cream to every crop. There is no type of music that is all bad. What I've discovered over the years is once you learn about something that you've previously disliked or knew very little about, your appreciation will go up. I've never had a case where learning more about something did not increase my appreciation.

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