Historical Composition, Music Theory, and Musicology


Having received my PhD at Yale University in 2009, I am currently Associate Professor of Music Theory and Cognition at Northwestern University and Chair of the Department of Music Studies. I research the compositional, listening, and pedagogical practices of the long 18th century. Taking a holistic view, which combines perspectives from schema theory, Formenlehre, topic theory, and historical pedagogies, my work aims to reconstruct “insider” perspectives on music of the period. I have published or have work forthcoming in Music AnalysisMusic Theory Online, Eighteenth-Century Music, The Oxford Handbook of Topic Theory (ed. Danuta Mirka), Musica HumanaTheory and Practice, What Is a Cadence? (ed. Markus Neuwirth and Pieter Bergé), Intégral, The Oxford Handbook of Music and Corpus Studies (ed. Daniel Shanahan, Ashley Burgoyne, and Ian Quinn) and The Cambridge Companion to Beethoven’s Eroica Symphony (ed. Nancy November). My research has dealt with issues of key perception and tonality, interactions between local and large-scale musical grammars, intersections between syntax and semantics, musical meaning and communication, and how partimenti and other historical pedagogical documents relate to free composition.

             I am currently developing a book project on period composition from technical, aesthetic, and philosophical positions, which tells its story through the lens of my own historical compositions. The first fruits of this labor are published in “Prelude on a Partimento: Invention in the Compositional Pedagogy of the German States in the Time of J. S. Bach” (Music Theory Online), which received the Outstanding Publication Award from the Society for Music Theory in 2017. Also in 2017, I was awarded the Charles Deering McCormick Professorship, Northwestern University’s highest recognition of teaching excellence and curricular innovation. The curriculum I designed is oriented around 18th-century period composition, and in several respects is the lab where ideas for my current book project are developed. I have been on the Faculty Honor Roll of Northwestern’s Associated Student Government three years in a row (2015–18). I have presented papers at numerous national, international, and regional conferences in North America and Europe, and have been invited to present research at various venues in the United States and Europe.



Historical Composition,

Music Theory, and Musicology