Mike Barnett balances an active career as a composer, drummer, recording artist, record producer, author and educator. He currently teaches Songwriting, various courses in Rock and American Popular music, and Instrumentation at CU. His eclectic creative output and non-traditional background distinguish him among his peers.
A passion for rock music led Barnett to discover his penchant for the drums. He began self-instruction at an early age and was well established in the world of heavy metal and art rock while still in his teens. He has worked as a songwriter and drummer in a number of bands over the past three decades, including Phantom Crew, Dofka, Tainted Saint and Throttle, and has performed on many studio recordings as a “hired gun.” He has also produced records for various rock and pop artists. His most recent creative work in the recording arts is an instrumental heavy metal/classical fusion project called Terminal Degree, which brings together electric violins and electric celli with conventional electric bass guitar and drum set. The first Terminal Degree recording, “The Middle of Nowhen,” met with high critical acclaim and commercial success. The second studio effort, “Breed,” which features Barnett’s CU colleague Chas Wetherbee on electric violin, was released in the Spring 2016 on vinyl and compact disc.
Barnett holds the Bachelor of Music and Master of Music degrees in composition from Indiana University of Pennsylvania and the Doctor of Musical Arts degree in composition from the University of Colorado Boulder. His concert music has been performed around the world by prominent musicians and ensembles and has earned him numerous awards.
Barnett’s output as a composer includes orchestral works, violin and piano concerti, wind ensembles, a chamber opera and many chamber works, solo works and songs. In addition to his recent work with Chas Wetherbee, Barnett has enjoyed collaborations with CU colleagues David Korevaar, Erika Eckert, David Requiro and Michael Thornton. Videos of live performances of some of Barnett’s music, recorded from CU’s Faculty Tuesday Series, can be accessed through the links below.
In 2017, Barnett published the textbook, Rock: Postmodernism in Action, with Cognella Academic Publishing.