Kate Heidemann (PhD, Theory, 2014) is Visiting Assistant Professor of Music at Colby College.
Kate Heidemann studies popular music and is specifically interested in the analysis of vocal quality, theories of music informed by embodied cognition, and the intersection of gender, class, and race in country and soul music. Her dissertation, "Hearing Women's Voices in Popular Song: Analyzing Sound and Identity in Country and Soul," presents an interdisciplinary approach to pop song analysis, applied to works from the late 60s and early 70s by Aretha Franklin, Gladys Knight, Loretta Lynn, and Dolly Parton. Her other research interests include timbre, Schenkerian analysis, feminist theory, and the analysis of music video. Kate Heidemann is currently researching analytic approaches to pop vocal performance, with an emphasis on timbre. She presented her methodology for describing pop vocal timbre at the Society for Music Theory’s annual conference in 2014, and has continued her work on this topic in her most recent article. Her motivation in creating this system is to address common miscommunications about timbre that occur in academic and popular discussions of vocal performance, and to better reflect in her analyses the physical nature of music’s production and reception. This motivation aligns with traditions and new work in musicology informed by feminist theory, phenomenology, and cognitive psychology and neuroscience.
Heidemann incorporates this methodology into studies of vocal performance that also consider vocalists' approaches to phrasing and ornamentation, accents and styles of diction, musical interactions with fellow performers, and "staging" within a recording. In past and ongoing work, she has used this approach to study vocal performances by Aretha Franklin, Gladys Knight, Loretta Lynn, and Dolly Parton. Earlier studies have also included performances by Björk and Billie Holiday. Her work on vocal performance informs a consideration of the relationship between song personae expressed through sound, and the ways recorded vocal performances can function as multifaceted representations of gender, sexuality, race, and class. In other words, she studies the interaction between listener and recording as a means to illuminate the ways we use sound to construct social categories.
Kate's scholarly pursuits have always extended across disciplinary boundaries. She majored in both music and philosophy at Colby College in Waterville, Maine, and later earned a master's degree in humanities at the University of Chicago. In addition to her studies in the Department of Music t at Columbia, she earned a graduate certification in feminist scholarship from Columbia's Institute for Research on Women and Gender.