New Course! Essential Music Foundations: Learn the History of Electronic Music

Trace the path of electronic music from its origins in the lab to its evolution on the dance floor – and look to where it will go in the future with Essential Music Foundations Level 1: Electronic Music Appreciation designed by Dubspot instructor, multi-instrumentalist, and band leader Martín Perna.

Electronic dance music wasn’t born on  the dance floor. Learn the origins of electronic music and the progression into modern dance styles, spanning eight major musical movements and their assorted genres. Study each style’s defining characteristics, seminal artists and producers, and a list of essential listening. Before you break the rules, you have to learn them and see what others have done. This electronic musicology class will provide you that background.


-Dub / Dancehall-History of Electronic Music

-Electronic Dance Music (EDM) – house, techno, trance

-Dubstep / Drum & Bass / Experimental

-Funk / Hip Hop

-Downtempo / Ambient


-Global Electronic Sounds

Course Goal:
Through multimedia videos, listening assignments, interactive quizzes, and discussion forums, students will be able to identify the genres, songs, and formal characteristics and curate a mixtape featuring songs from each style.

Hello, music lovers. My name is Martín Perna. I’m creator and instructor for Dubspot’s EMF: Essential Music Foundations curriculum. This block of three courses–Music Appreciation, Keys and Pads, and Music Theory–is designed to create guideposts to help you build the foundations as an electronic musician. It covers some areas of “traditional” music education that you might find in a conservatory, but is specifically designed and curated for the electronic, computer-based musician. The lessons are designed to take advantage of what you already know, and introduce you to new artists, concepts, and techniques that will better help you understand and create better music.

EMF 001Music Appreciation is an 8 lesson course covering some key historical movements in electronic music and dance music that laid the foundation for todays EDM. We look at artists, technologies, geographic scenes, and historical contexts in which these techniques and genres were born and developed, from Thomas Edison’s wax cylinder to the first drum machines to Flying Lotus.

Each class section involves listening and watching clips curated specifically for the lesson, followed by a short quiz testing your understanding of the lesson. You’ll dialogue with classmates and instructors and share questions in the class forum. You’ll also curate your own Soundcloud mixes and Pandora playlists, and you’ll help assist in building and organizing  global music databases.

EMF001 is designed to build foundations for future Music Appreciation courses offering in-depth 8 lesson studies of specific music genres and movements.

About me:
I have been involved in music and music education since 1995. While still an undergraduate at NYU in the mid 90s, I began making music with friends including Gabriel Roth of Desco / Daptone Records and Tunde Adebimpe, singer of TV on the Radio. I had a bit of formal training during this time, but most of my education came from watching, playing, and recording with better musicians around me. I recorded a studio musician on most of the recordings that came out of Desco/Daptone records during this time, and also recorded horns for Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings’ “Dap Dippin” as well as TV on the Radio’s first four albums.

In 1998, together with friends from the Soul Providers, I put together Antibalas. We have recorded four records and have collaborated with artists including Public Enemy, the Roots, Tony Allen, Seun Kuti, Burning Spear, Medeski, Martin and Wood, Angelique Kidjo and many others. I also write perform, and co-produce Ocote Soul Sounds, an Austin, TX based Latin folk/funk group with Adrian Quesada of the Grammy-winning Grupo Fantasma. Adrian and I have made four records, the latest coming out in May 2011 on ESL Music, produced by Eric Hilton of Thievery Corporation.

In 2003, I began making the transition from analog to digital. Mark Hines (Marksmen, Afrobeatles) and DJ Rich Medina helped me get my feet on the ground and were a constant inspiration and resource. The next few years were a lot of trial and error until I linked up with Dubspot, where I’ve studied Ableton Live with DJ Kiva.

To Dubspot’s online school, I combine my musical experience with specialized training in design of distance learning courses from my studies in the Masters in Education Technology program at University of Texas-Brownsville. As both a student and a teacher, I’m excited to be a part of Dubspot. It’s a unique place where people all over the world can come together through the appreciation and study of music.

If you’ve already signed up for EMF001, get ready for a welcome email in the next few days outlining preparations you’ll need to make for the first day of class. If you haven’t signed up or are still considering, it’s not too late!

Stay tuned to the Dubspot blog for more information on future EMF courses.

Also check out these videos for a brief priview of what to expect in EMF: Music Appreciation

Early electronic musical instrument, The Telharmonium (also known as the Dynamophone)

A brief introduction about King Tubby, then Bunny Lee, Prince Jammy & Scientist making a track.

Clyde Stubblefield: James Brown’s “Funky Drummer

Flying Lotus “Mmm Hmm” from his 2010 album Cosmogramma

  • Music Foundations Video Tutorial: Chord Progressions + Improvisation w/ Mark de Clive-Lowe | Dubspot Blog
  • 2/18/2011

[...] video are part of Dubspot’s three level Music Foundations program designed and developed by Martin Perna, an Austin, Texas based musician, educator and social entrepreneur. Currently available in our [...]