Music majors move beyond jazz and classical music
As 23-year-old Ryan Tipton sits outside Burk Hall, he treats students walking to class to a deconstructed, acoustic version of Odeza’s popular electronic song “Say My Name,” on his guitar.
Though Tipton plays eight other instruments, he has played guitar for nine years and admits that it’s the one he fell in love with.
Tipton describes his musical style as a mix between Ed Sheeran and Alina Bazar, with the honest relatability of Sheeran but the overarching calmness of Bazar. He also covers electronic music, giving them an acoustic spin. His current project involves three songs off the new Glass Animals album “How to Be a Human Being.” Tipton describes Glass Animals as his current obsession.
“It’s mostly their lyrics and their very organic instruments,” Tipton said. “Most of their lyrics don’t really make sense and I think there’s a certain beauty about being so incoherent that it makes sense.”
Despite his long-term love for music, Tipton majors in business administration management.
“Unfortunately at SFSU they primarily want jazz and classical and what I want to pursue isn’t in that realm,” Tipton said.
Dr. Mafez Modirzadeh, a world music professor at SF State since 1998, thinks it is a common notion among students that all there is that’s promoted for relevant study is jazz and classical music. According to Modirzadeh, for the past few years faculty has approved of world and creative music as an emphasis for a bachelor’s degree in music.
“Any students who feel that there’s only a limited choice need to dig deeper. They’ll find there to be more choices the deeper they dig,” Modirzadeh said.
An emphasis in creative music looks at creativity across cultures, genres and the role of creativity within music. Modirzadeh says it arose as the school recognized that students need opportunity to explore their own creative roles and performances.
“They have to have a place where they can try out these ideas and discuss these ideas and that’s why we have creative music here,” Modirzadeh said.
Another student, 24-year-old Christopher Castanon, has played guitar for 15 years. Despite his musical background, he also chose to refrain from studying music. However, he does not attribute this decision to the music program. He believes that a heavy emphasis on jazz and classical music is important for a solid foundation in music.
“Jazz and classical are building blocks to understand the fundamentals,” Castanon said. “It’s not the school’s job to teach musicians how to be creative, that’s where the personal aspect of music comes from.”
Though nothing is definite yet, Modirzadeh suggested that in the future the music program may expand even more, possibly creating an emphasis in film, rock and popular music, which he refers to as commercial music. He attributes this growth to the amount of genres found in modern music.
“Nowadays with information, access and technology, one can’t describe what they do with one genre,” Modirzadeh said. “They pull and draw from many genres and in the end we find ourselves having to refer not to genre or style but to artists and people.”