Berklee today

JUN 2017

Berklee today is the official alumni publication of Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts. It is a forum for contemporary music and musicians.

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Page 26 of 44

24 Berklee today Visiting David Mash's office at Berklee, among the first things you'll notice are a brand-new, custom-built, limited- edition Godin guitar, or perhaps a retro Moog synthesizer. The cutting-edge/throwback dichotomy befits Mash, an early adopter with an eye not only for what's next, but also for the history of technological innovation that informs what is yet to come. Rolling Stone magazine once referred to Mash as "the leading evangelist for the marriage of mu- sic and technology." For more than 40 years, Mash has been proselytizing the near-limitless possibilities of that marriage at Berklee, first as a student, later as a faculty member and administrator, and ultimately as Berklee's senior vice presi- dent for innovation, strategy, and technology. Now, Mash is retiring. He was recently honored at Berklee's Voltage Connect Conference and Concert, spon- sored by the college's Electronic Production and Design (EPD) Department. EPD is the successor to the Music Synthesis Department, which Mash founded, and which was the first college-level program to focus on the MIDI technology that now drives the modern music industry. Leading up to the conference, many of his closest colleagues came to celebrate Mash's lasting influence at an event in Berklee's David Friend Recital Hall. Scott Street, Berklee's now-retired associate vice presi- dent for information technology, described Mash as a "vi- sionary, improviser, entrepreneur, relationship builder, passionate leader and shaper of Berklee, and the best boss I ever had." Street was one of many to cite the impact Mash had on his life. When Lee Whitmore, vice president for education outreach and social entrepreneurship, asked, "How many of you have had David, in some way, touch and change your life?" every person in the hall raised their hand, which is no wonder when one con- siders the remarkable scope of Mash's work. Curiosity Saved the Jazz Cat Growing up in a musical family in Detroit, Mash took to the guitar early and received guitar lessons from a well-re- spected local instructor, Joe Fava, starting at age seven. Playing in wedding and bar mitzvah bands throughout high school, Mash was also drawn to art, though, perhaps due to his color blindness, he found that the artwork that most resonated with him did not have the same impact on most others, and vice versa. Partially at the behest of his parents, who loved music but did not consider it a serious profession, Mash set out to be a doctor, undertaking his pre-med work at Oakland University. But after he realized during a dissection exercise that he was uncomfortable at the sight of blood, Mash knew that plan A wasn't going to work for him. He changed gears and decided to study music at Wayne State University in Detroit, where he reconnected with his original teacher, Fava. "I placed out of all the music theory courses because I'd been studying all my life, basically," Mash says, and before long, Fava told him, "'You should be pursuing something be- yond this.'" Fava advised Mash to explore Berklee to advance his mu- sicianship as a guitarist, and Mash followed his advice, first studying via Berklee's by-mail correspondence course in 1972 (an analog precursor, in many ways, to the distance learning curriculum of Berklee Online today). He then enrolled as a full-time student on campus in 1973 before graduating summa cum laude in 1976. Mash points to faculty mentors such as Michael Rendish, Herb Pomeroy, Mike Gibbs, Larry Monroe, Ted Pease, and Alex Ulanowsky as particularly in- fluential in his development as a musician and as a person during his student days at Berklee. By 1976, Mash and his progressive electronic-jazz fusion band, Ictus, began building what became a solid following. Mash has always played and composed at a high level but, in a cruel twist of fate, he lost the use of his right hand due to a surgical error in 1977. Not one to give up or give in and in true jazz cat fashion, Mash soon figured out how to adapt to his new physical lim- itation and began playing an instrument that was new, both to him and to the world at large: the synthesizer. Playing with one hand, Mash was able to continue recording and performing with the band, which enjoyed a successful run until 1983, and Mash has continued to compose and record complex yet accessible pieces under his Mashine Music mon- iker ever since. "I need to play music every day," Mash says "to stay connected to who I am as a human being." CAREER RETROSPECTIVES Four Decades of Defining Berklee's Future By Mike Keefe-Feldman David Mash as a guitarist in the 1970s in his pre-music technology days. David Mash '76 leaned on his expertise in music, education, and technology to help guide Berklee into the 21st Century.

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