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Music Theory and Analysis

The programme in music theory and analysis at Durham encompasses study of the structural, conceptual, and philosophical principles that shape how music works, as well as critical examination of how those principles are applied in composition and improvisation.  We foster interdisciplinary exchange with neighboring subfields of music, science, and the humanities in order to connect our inquiries to broader matters of performance, cognition and perception, history, culture and society.

The Department boasts a strong profile in diverse fields of theory and analysis including:

  • formal analysis and Formenlehre
  • Schenkerian and transformational approaches to analysis
  • ancient, early modern, and tonal theory
  • tuning and temperament
  • global history of theory
  • the technologies, instruments, and media of theoretical inquiry
  • theory and musical science (particularly acoustics, psychoacoustics, and cognition)
  • theories of metre, rhythm and temporality
  • performance and analysis
  • the analysis of nineteenth-century European music (especially the symphony and the piano concerto)
  • the analysis of world music (particularly in South Asia, Japan, Korea, and the Indigenous Americas)
  • the analysis of popular music.
  • the analysis of contemporary classical music

We have hosted both the first and second SMA analysis summer schools, the SMA’s graduate conference (TAGS) and the Formal Theory Study Group’s International Conference on Musical Form. A member of staff has twice served as the SMA’s president, several members of staff have served on the boards of the journals Music Analysis and Analytical Approaches to World Music, and the Formal Theory Study Group was founded by Durham doctoral students in music theory. The Department has supported a number of research projects in theory and analysis, including AHRC-funded PhD theses on intimacy in Mendelssohn’s instrumental music, and syntax and form in Mendelssohn’s symphonies, overtures and string quartets. We are also keen to support analytical projects in non-Western music, an area in which our staff are very active: this can include projects combining analysis with other ethnomusicological methods, or those which draw on approaches developed in the context of Western art music and apply them to other traditions.

Music Theory and Analysis

Find out about our Music Theory and Analysis Staff Research Interests here:

Professor Martin Clayton

Theory and analysis of rhythm and metre; Indian music
Martin Clayton

Professor Julian Horton

Romantic form, tonality, corpus studies, topic theory

Dr Simon Mills

Rhythmic analysis; Korean music; Systems of musical representation (terminology and notation); Musical instruments Transcription and analysis
Dr Simon Mills

Dr Daniel Walden

analysis of 19th/20th-c. music; tuning and temperament; global history, media studies, and decolonial critique
Dr Daniel Walden