From Bach to U2, a Study of Music


M. PetersFor a professor who specializes in 18th century music, a lecture featuring the Irish rock band U2 might seem a little unusual. Yet for Professor of Music Mark Peters, Ph.D., the lecture was a way to expand his understanding of music and scholarship.

Peters presented his lecture, “’I Am Someone,’ But Who? U2’s Appropriations of Black Music on Rattle and Hum” in March at James Madison University School of Music in Harrisonburg, Virginia. The lecture traced the influence of African-American music—including Gospel, 12-bar Blues, Rhythm & Blues, and the music of Jimi Hendrix—on the band’s 1988 album Rattle and Hum.

The lecture was the first in a series the School of Music will sponsor on an annual basis.

Although it differed from his usual realm of study, the lecture, said Peters, presented an opportunity for him to be stretched academically.

“This was a different type of scholarship from Bach,” he said, adding that the opportunity allowed him to research a topic he was passionate about while gaining valuable scholarship experience.

Peters was well-received by the James Madison community. “His engaging and illuminating lecture on U2’s appropriation of Gospel music, well attended by a diverse audience of students, faculty, and community members, far proved that Dr. Peters was the right choice to inaugurate the series,” said Dr. Pedro Aponte, associate professor of musicology at James Madison University.