Student Gallery & Alumni News

With this issue of THINK THEORY! we inaugurate a gallery in which we feature projects from students in our classes.


Katie Scholl with Flute

The first project, by Katherine Scholl, junior flute major, is a piece for flute and electronics that she wrote for Daphne Leong’s post-tonal theory class. Click here for a short video in which she explains the ideas and structure behind the work; click here for her performance.


The Brahms student group around a book


Five students in Keith Water’s seminar on the music of Brahms undertook another project. In it, they discuss ideas of larger metrical organization in three chamber works by Brahms, including movements from the Quintet for Piano and Strings in F minor, the Violin Sonata no. 2 in A major, and the Clarinet Sonata in F minor. Understanding these larger metrical units, often referred to as “hypermeter,” helps performers and listeners shape or intuit spans of music that are broader than those indicated by the meter (that is, the notated barline and time signature). This group project —by doctoral performance students Brittan Braddock, Ashley Gulbranson, Ryan Jacobsen, Jonathan Morris, and Caitlin Stokes—includes written commentary, musical examples, and annotated scores.


Jose Leon with Trombone The third project is from Yonatan Malin’s graduate seminar on the music of Schubert. Two doctoral performance students, Daniel Nester and Jose Leon, created, published, and performed original transcriptions of famous songs by Schubert, following in the tradition of Liszt and others. Daniel Nester with BassoonNester transcribed “Erlkönig” for solo bassoon; program notes and a video of his performance can be found here and the transcription is published by T.D. Ellis. Leon transcribed and combined “Der Tod und das Mädchen” (Death and the Maiden) and “Der Jüngling und der Tod” (The Youth and Death) for trombone quartet; program notes and a video of the performance can be found here and the transcription is published by Warwick Music.



Clay Downham, MM Theory student, presented a paper on “Eric Dolphy’s Out” at the Semiotic Society of America conference in Puebla, Mexico, and at the University of North Texas and University of Arizona in fall 2017. They will present on “Eric Dolphy’s Applications of George Russell’s Lydian Chromatic Concept” at conferences at Yale University and McGill University this spring.

Annaka Hogelin, DMA clarinet performance candidate, will present her lecture-recital “Unity in Joan Tower’s Wings for solo clarinet” at ClarinetFest, the festival of the International Clarinet Association, in Ostend, Belgium, this summer. Annaka prepared this lecture-recital as a final project for Daphne Leong’s doctoral seminar on the relationship between analysis and performance.


John Peterson and Brian Jarvis’s article “Alternative Paths, Phrase Expansion, and the Music of Felix Mendelssohn” is forthcoming from the top-tier journal Music Theory Spectrum. In the article John and Brian propose a new method of analyzing phrase expansion using Steve Larson and Mark Johnson’s work on the metaphor of musical motion. They apply their methodology to several Mendelssohn works, with a special focus on the beginning of Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto.

In an undergraduate seminar next semester, John (Assistant Professor at James Madison University) will engage in “public music theory,” with a broad interest in cross-disciplinary communication. For their final projects, students will partner with art students in a weaving class. Each music student will analyze a work and explain an aspect of that work to an art student, who will represent the analysis in an encoded woven design. The fabric, a “public-friendly” version of the analysis, and a recording of the music will be publicly displayed in downtown Harrisonburg at the end of the semester.

Landon Morrison (doctoral candidate, McGill University) will spend three months of 2018 at the Paul Sacher Foundation in Basel, Switzerland, where he will conduct archival research for his dissertation on the role of computer-based models and techniques in (post)spectral instrumental music.

Landon’s forthcoming chapter in the Oxford Handbook of Time in Music sketches a capsule history of rhythm quantization as a pervasive studio production technique in popular music.

Ashley Pontiff is Lecturer in Music at the University of Colorado Denver, where she teaches courses on music theory, aural skills, piano, and music appreciation. She is also a certified Advanced Placement Program Reader/Scoring Professional for the Advanced Placement Music Theory Exam.

Micheal Sebulsky is a first-year Ph.D. student and Graduate Teaching Fellow at the University of Oregon. He will present his  research, on text/music relationships and improvisation in the music of Dave Matthews Band, at the 2018 conferences of the Rocky Mountain Society for Music Theory and the West Coast Conference of Music Theory and Analysis.

Alan Reese is completing his Ph.D. dissertation “The Wartime Works of Karol Szymanowski” at the Eastman School of Music. The dissertation develops and evaluates both tonal and post-tonal analytical approaches to Szymanowski’s music.


We will be archiving videos from our CU on the Weekend series, Musical Conversations. This series shares our ideas about musical structure and meaning in accessible and engaging ways, coupled with live performance.

What Do You Hear? Listening to Modernist Music – Daphne Leong, 30 September 2017

“O Wondrous Singer!”Grief and Consolation in Walt Whitman’s Lilacs and George Crumb’s Apparition – Steven Bruns, 21 November 2016

Gershwin Meets Schubert: Words, Music, and Song – Yonatan Malin and Keith Waters, 24 October 2015

Header image: Gaudí, Casa Battló by D. Leong

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *