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BHSU Math Professor Talks Music

Dan May

Black Hills State University Math Professor Dr. Dan May is talking music this week. He says he wants to give students what they say they’re interested in – rock music. Actually, the rise and fall of rock music.

Dr. Dan May tracks the history of independent bands and labels throughout the 1980’s in is talk “Love Me I’m Rich: The Rise and Fall of American Alternative Music”.

May says the Seattle-based, grunge-band Nirvana wasn’t part of the rise – it was the rise of American alternative music.

May attributes factors like a broad cultural shift and more aggressive, less-sensitive music to the fall.

BHSU math professor Dr. Dan May says he’s a mathematician, but he also has another passion.
“If I’m not thinking about math I’m probably thinking about popular music,” says May.
May says due to student interest in the history of rock-and-roll, he is presenting his speech “Love Me I’m Rich: The Rise and Fall of American Alternative Music” at BHSU in Spearfish.
May says the title of his speech might be a little melodramatic.
“I mean, the point of the talk is to trace this increase in popularity and success of a certain type of music, culminating with this moment when Nirvana became number one on the charts, and then what happened in the decade following that – the sort of commercial falling-off of that style of music and also the critical falling-off of that style of music,” says May.

An increase in music venues, independent labels, and fanzines, May says, led to the rise.
“And it started slow, it started small, but as the decade of the 80’s wore on, and this is what I hope the talk will be about, you see the influence and popularity growing from a relatively small group of insiders who knew about this music in the early 80’s to it becoming a, really a commercial force by the end of the decade,” says May.
May says music has gradually become less sensitive to society’s issues – and instead become more aggressive. Also contributing to the “fall” he says, largely in part due to the internet, music has become more homogenized as a whole.
Dr. May is giving his presentation on the Rise and Fall of American Alternative Music as part of the University’s Geek Speak lectures – a weekly series highlighting what faculty are researching - outside the classroom.
Dr. May's Geek Speak presentation is Thursday, April 9th at BHSU in Spearfish, SD. For more information visit

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