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Yvette J. Jackson to Become Assistant Professor in Harvard’s Music Department

New Music Professor Yvette J, Jackson will teach classes for Theater, Dance, and Media, which is headquartered in Farkas Hall.
New Music Professor Yvette J, Jackson will teach classes for Theater, Dance, and Media, which is headquartered in Farkas Hall. By Casey M. Allen
By Andrea M. Bossi, Crimson Staff Writer

Yvette J. Jackson will join the Music Department in July to teach interdisciplinary music courses as assistant professor in creative practice and critical inquiry.

Jackson, who currently serves as a visiting assistant professor of music at Amherst College, holds a doctorate in music-integrative studies.

In her new role at Harvard, Jackson will combine her expertise in music with her experience in theater. She will teach undergraduate classes for Theater, Dance, and Media, and graduate classes for the Music Department’s Creative Practice and Critical Inquiry program.

“I’m looking forward to being able to create classes that are cross-disciplinary. I always enjoy connecting music to other disciplines,” Jackson said. “So, creating classes for Theater, Dance, and Media is something I am really looking forward to.”

Suzannah E. Clark, the chair of the Music Department, said that during her time leading the department, she has made intentional changes to expand the department’s offerings to focus on types of music outside of the European tradition.

“The structure of our requirements was really centered around European music, or the Western tradition,” Clark said. “Now we’re very open, and we regard everyone in our department as equally contributing to what it means to study music.”

As part of these initiatives, the department founded the Creative Practice and Critical Inquiry program in collaboration with composer and musical improviser, Vijay Iyer. Iyer, a professor in the Music department, currently serves as the program’s graduate adviser.

“We make music, and we think about it,” Iyer said. “We think about how to talk about it, how to study it, how to analyze it, and how to theorize about it in ways that serve the process of music making.”

Jackson said she was excited to be involved in the new program and in the broader departmental changes. Jackson self-described her compositions as “radio operas” which are electroacoustic compositions drawing on historical context and using various sounds, often from computers, like sound bytes.

Iyer said that the Creative Practice and Critical Inquiry program marked the beginning of a shift in the identity of the department.

“We have all these music makers who have very diverse backgrounds, orientations, and perspectives on what music making consists of, how to study it, how to do it, and how to think about it,” he said.

Jackson’s recently announced appointment is another step in the department’s attempts to recognize and teach across more musical genres.

“She holds the view that everyone is a composer and everyone has creativity in them, and it's about the ability to make something happen with sound,” Clark said.

Prior to teaching at Amherst, Jackson taught music courses at the University of California, San Diego. In her final semester at Amherst next spring, she will teach a course on identity and electroacoustic music history.

—Staff Writer Andrea M. Bossi can be reached at and on Twitter @bossi147

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