Graduate Student Workshop Program (GSWP)

The SMT offers educational workshops for graduate students, emphasizing instruction, participation, and discussion. The Graduate Student Workshop Program was founded by Wayne Alpern, who acted as Administrative Director of the Program from 2006–2011, and whose efforts, innovative ideas, and financial contributions supported the Program during its initial years. To encourage interaction, each workshop is limited to approximately 10–12 participants. Since its inception, around 249 graduate students have participated in the GSWP.


To apply for the 2016 workshop program, please complete the online application. Applications are due by 1 July 2016; selected participants will be notified shortly thereafter. Be aware that these workshops require many hours of preparation in advance, including both reading and writing assignments. You are not expected to be an expert in the subject matter of the workshop(s) for which you apply, but you should have a serious interest in it and a commitment to it. In the event that a student selected for a GSWP workshop also has a paper accepted to the conference and scheduled by the program committee at a time conflicting with the workshop, the student may need to forgo participation in the workshop.


All full-time students registered in a graduate program in music theory, or in a graduate program in musicology or composition with a substantial theory component, and who have not received their Ph.D. as of July 1, 2016, are eligible to apply. Participants are selected by a random draw from the pool of applicants. The GSWP is intended to provide students with the opportunity to study with a professor not at their home institution; therefore, students affiliated with the institution of the instructor are not eligible for that instructor’s workshop. Prior GSWP participants are permitted to apply, but preference will be given to first-time applicants.


There is no fee to participate in the program. Participants are responsible, however, for the cost of SMT membership and conference registration (but not at the time of application), as well as for other expenses of attendance, including transportation, housing, and meals. The GSWP provides a reception on the evening before the workshops and a modest brown-bag lunch after the workshops.

2016 Workshops

Richard Cohn (Yale University): Meter and Form in 19th-Century Music

If asked to describe "the meter" of a movement, our first impulse might be to examine its unchanging meter signature, and on that basis assign it to a static category. To conceive meter instead as a category of heard and felt experience encourages us to think of a composition as dynamically moving between a succession of metric states. This conception invites us to explore the ordering of the metric states, the processes of transition between them, the trajectories they project and perhaps fulfill, the amount of musical time that they occupy, and their patterns of recurrence. When questions of this type apply to categories of tonality (chords, keys), we think of them ultimately as questions of musical form. How would we describe the form of a piece, if it were determined by its metric events?

Participants in this seminar will explore ways to classify and represent metric states, calculate distances between them, and position them within a space; and will use these concepts and techniques to explore "metric form" in selected compositions of Beethoven, Schumann, Smetana, Brahms, and Dvorak.

Danuta Mirka (University of Southampton): Topics, Phrase Structure, and Sonata Form in Haydn's Chamber Music

According to Dean Sutcliffe (2014), the phenomenon of topical mixtures in eighteenth-century music was made possible by the rise of periodic phrase structure and fostered by the increasing popularity of chamber music, which featured highly fine-grained phrase structures and quick-fire topical exchanges. Certainly, clear punctuation between and within phrases invited changes of topics, but phrases were not mere containers for topical materials and patterns of musical punctuation could be not only filled but also broken by their topical contents. This was consequential for eighteenth-century musical forms. While, under normal circumstances, topics facilitated their articulation by composers and comprehension by listeners, they could also obliterate formal junctures and create false connections across formal sections. Further consequences of topical contents for musical forms followed from topics’ melodic, harmonic and textural characteristics, which could be more or less compatible with their formal functions, and from associations of certain topics with specific keys, which could influence tonal processes.

This workshop will probe interactions between these interrelated dimensions of eighteenth-century compositions in two most prominent genres of Haydn’s chamber music: the keyboard sonata and the string quartet. By concentrating on sonata-form first movements, it will explore the relation between historical and new theories of the sonata form and seek to interpret this form as an expression of musical agency.

Previous Workshops

  • 2015: Schubert’s Modulatory Practice and the History of Tonal Coherence Instructor: Suzannah Clark (Harvard University); Cognitive Science Meets the Orphans Instructor:Robert Gjerdingen (Northwestern University)
  • 2014: Exploring Pitch Memory and Melody Perception: Empirical Approaches Instructor: Elizabeth West Marvin (Eastman School of Music); Finding Narratives in Formal Analysis of Popular Music Instructor: Jocelyn Neal (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill); Renaissance Instrumental Music Instructor: Peter Schubert (McGill University)
  • 2013: The Idea of Musical Form as Process, from Analytic and Performance Perspectives Instructor: Janet Schmalfeldt (Tufts University); What is Metric Well Formedness? Instructor: Justin London (Carleton College)
  • 2012: Harmony and Voice Leading in Rock and Pop Music Instructor: Walt Everett (University of Michigan); A Corpus-Based Approach to Tonal Theory Instructor: Ian Quinn (Yale University)
  • 2011: Exploring Musical Spaces Instructor: Julian Hook (Indiana University)
  • 2010: Stravinsky Instructor: Gretchen Horlacher (Indiana University); Musical Narrative Instructor: Michael Klein (Temple University)
  • 2009: Music Pedagogy Instructor: Brian Alegant (Oberlin College); Schenkerian Analysis Instructor: Poundie Burstein (City University of New York)
  • 2008: Musical Meaning in Beethoven Instructor: Robert Hatten (Indiana University); Analyzing Contemporary Music Instructor: John Roeder (University of British Columbia)
  • 2007: Sonata Theory Instructors: James Hepokoski (Yale University) and Warren Darcy (Oberlin College); Analyzing Early Music Instructor: Cristle Collins Judd (Bowdoin College)
  • 2006: Voice Leading in Atonal Music Instructor: Joseph Straus (City University of New York)


For additional information, please contact Ian Quinn, Chair of the Committee on Workshop Programs, at The 2016 Committee on Workshop Programs also includes Zachary Bernstein (Eastman School of Music), Andrew Mead (Indiana University), and Marianne Wheeldon (University of Texas).

Workshop opportunities are also available to those who have completed a Ph.D.