Music Theory

Graduate Studies in Music Theory

Graduate courses  Undergraduate courses

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Joseph Dubiel

Professor of Music & Area Chair, Music Theory

Ellie M. Hisama

Professor of Music (on leave 2019–20)

Mariusz Kozak

Associate Professor of Music (on leave 2020–21)

Benjamin Steege

Associate Professor of Music

Programs Offered

  • PhD

 Graduate Students 

Recently Defended Dissertations

  • Mark Saccomano, "Musical Sound and Spatial Perception: How Music Structures our Sense of Space" (2020)
  • Eamonn Bell, "The Computational Attitude in Music Theory" (2019)
  • Marc Hannaford, "One Line, Many Views: Perspectives on Music Theory, Composition, and Improvisation through the Work of Muhal Richard Abrams" (2019)
  • Will Mason, "Feeling Machines: Immersion, Expression, and Technological Embodiment in Electroacoustic Music of the French Spectral School" (2019)
  • Galen DeGraf, "Navigating Musical Periodicities: Modes of Perception and Types of Temporal Knowledge" (2018) 
  • Maeve Sterbenz, "Moving with Music: Approaches to the Analysis of Movement-Music Interactions" (2017)
  • Orit Hilewicz, "Listening to Ekphrastic Musical Compositions" (2017)
  • Benjamin Hansberry, "Phenomenon and Abstraction: Coordinating Concepts in Music Theory and Analysis" (2017)
  • Caleb Mutch, "Studies in the History of the Cadence" (2015)
  • Max Schmeder, "Thirty-Three Miniature Dialectics: Hegelian Philosophy vis-à-vis Beethoven’s 'Diabelli' Variations, Op. 120" (2014)
  • Kate Heidemann, "Hearing Women's Voices in Popular Song: Analyzing Sound and Identity in Country and Soul" (2014)
  • Scott Gleason, "Princeton Theory's Problematics" (2013)
  • Victoria Tzotzkova, “Theorizing Pianistic Performance: Tradition, Instrument, Performer” (2012)
  • Justin Hoffman, "Listening with Two Ears: Conflicting Perceptions of Space in Tonal Music" (2011)


Columbia theorists currently hold positions at Wheaton College (Mass.) (Will Mason, PhD '19), Indiana University (Caleb Mutch, PhD '15), Washington University (Paul Steinbeck, PhD ’08), Rutgers University (Christopher Doll, PhD ’07), University of Alberta (Maryam Moshaver, PhD ’06), Kunitachi College of Music (Cathy Cox, PhD ’06), Carnegie Mellon University (John Ito, PhD ’04), University of Arkansas (Elizabeth Margulis, PhD ’03), Hong Kong University (Youn Kim, PhD ’03), Cleveland Institute of Music (Diane Urista, PhD ’01), New York University (Martin Scherzinger, PhD ’01, and Marilyn Nonken, PhD ’99), Tamagawa University (Akira Takaoka, PhD ’99), National Taiwan University (Yuh-Wen Wang, PhD ’98), UC Santa Cruz (Paul Nauert, PhD ’97), Eastman School of Music (David Temperley, PhD ’96 and Orit Hilewicz, PhD '17), University of Western Ontario (Kevin Mooney, PhD ’96), Columbia University (Maeve Sterbenz, PhD '17) and elsewhere.

Recent Graduate Seminars

  • Techniques of the Listener
  • Theorizing Musical Temporality
  • Analysis of Popular Music
  • Music and the Body
  • Debussy and Modernism
  • Gender/Sexuality/Music: Theory, History, Criticism
  • New Currents in Hip-Hop Studies: Theory and Analysis
  • Interdisciplinary and Humanistic Approaches to Music Theory: Representations of the Listener
  • Interdisciplinary and Humanistic Approaches to Music Theory: Semantics and Pragmatics of Analytical Description
  • Introduction to History of Theory
  • Introduction to Schenkerian Analysis
  • Introduction to Set Theory
  • Advanced Analysis
  • Proseminar in Music Theory
  • Ruth Crawford Seeger: Modernism and Tradition in 20th-century American Music