John Stevens, Associate Professor
"I'm kind of a music detective. I'm fascinated with how melody and harmony work together, and I'm really good at explaining that to people, assuming they have an open mind. I can give them a little layering on what's going on with any song, whether it's a Radiohead song or a Beatles song or Jonas Brothers or Amy Winehouse. People tend to view music as big thing that they don't understand, but really it comes down to notes and chords—in terms of making it flow—and that's been going on since Mozart."
"A lot of times you get a good idea for a song, but then where are you going to go with it? If you have some idea of what you've got, then you know where to go for contrast, but if you don't know really what you have ahold of, it could go way off base or it could be more of the same. Ultimately in songs you're looking to have an initial idea paired with the best complimentary motif, lyric idea, harmonic progression, whatever, that will make it seem like two gears connecting—rather than just here's some stuff, here's some more stuff. Control of the material, that's the idea."
"I just did a lead sheet today for the Jonas Brothers song 'S.O.S.' It's classic mainstream pop, but they're making music. Whether it's country, reggae, pop, jazz, rock 'n' roll, heavy metal, head banger—all of these songs have something to say in their own style. And once you strip away the style and just look at what's going on in the song, it's really the same. In 'S.O.S.,' this lick—ba ba ba-da—is a blues lick, but they put a major melody against it. It's so wonderful. That's the crux of why that song works, why everyone sings it. It just resonates."
"I'm a huge Beatles fan. That's why I set up the Music of John Lennon course in 1981. It's a great privilege being able to explore Beatles and Lennon songs with our students each semester. And my book, The Songs of John Lennon: The Beatles Years, explains Lennon's songs from his Beatle period in even more depth."
- B.M., University of Mississippi
- M.M., Florida State University
- Performance credits in theater
- Former music director, WFSU-FM
- Lead vocalist, guitarist, and songwriter for original group Hand-Held Revolution
- Lead vocalist and guitarist for all-Beatles group the Blue Meanies