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 269 graduate students have participated in the GSWP.


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 June 15, 2018, 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.


To apply for the 2018 workshop program, please send your name, e-mail, school affiliation, and degree program to Vasili Byros at Please be sure to indicate for which workshop(s) you are applying—you may apply for one or both. You must also have a professor at your institution send an email to, confirming that you meet the requirements for participation stated above. Applications are due by 15 June 2018; 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 and 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.


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.

2018 Workshops

Issues in Popular-Music Analysis: Nicole Biamonte (Schulich School of Music, McGill University)

This workshop will explore aspects of popular-music analysis through two broad lenses: (1) conceptions of consonance and dissonance as they apply to pitch structures, meter, rhythm, and texture, and (2) ambiguities of form, tonality, harmony, and meter. A long-standing debate among popular-music scholars is the extent to which theoretical models from Western art music can be usefully adapted to apply to popular music, so we will begin with a consideration of the most salient commonalities and differences between art and popular musics. We will focus not only on surface differences such as harmonic and rhythmic syntax but also on deeper-level organizing principles such as the structural roles of textural layers, formal sections, and phrases; pitch centricity and hierarchy; and the relative consonance and dissonance of both pitch and rhythmic structures. Preparatory materials for the workshop will include an overview of analytical approaches for several important domains of recorded popular music: form, texture, harmony, scale, meter and rhythm, and recording techniques. We will weigh the advantages and limitations of these approaches; examine representative instances of melodic, harmonic, metric, rhythmic, and textural dissonance; and analyze and discuss selected pop-rock songs that feature formal, tonal, harmonic, and metric ambiguities.

Code Shifting, Chromaticism, and Modality: Dmitri Tymoczko (Princeton University)

In recent years, theorists have settled on a view of 19th-century music as combining two distinct practices: a “first practice” of functional harmony, and a “second practice” centering on chromatic voice leading. In my workshop I want to extend this perspective to repertoires in which the two interacting systems are those of functional tonality and diatonic modality. I will suggest we can find a similar sort of “code shifting” in both early 17th-century music, before functional conventions were strong, and contemporary popular music, after those conventions had weakened. Theoretically this will involve generalizing traditional models of voice leading so that they apply to any chord in any scale, a project facilitated by some new circular models of voice leading relationships.

Previous Workshops

  • 2017
    • Music-Listener Intersubjectivity – Marion Guck (University of Michigan)
    • The Craft of Musical Analysis – Frank Samarotto (Jacobs School of Music, Indiana University)
  • 2016
    • Meter and Form in 19th-Century Music – Richard Cohn (Yale University)
    • Topics, Phrase Structure, and Sonata Form in Haydn's Chamber Music – Danuta Mirka (University of Southampton)
  • 2015
    • Schubert’s Modulatory Practice and the History of Tonal Coherence – Suzannah Clark (Harvard University)
    • Cognitive Science Meets the Orphans – Robert Gjerdingen (Northwestern University)
  • 2014
    • Exploring Pitch Memory and Melody Perception: Empirical Approaches – Elizabeth West Marvin (Eastman School of Music)
    • Finding Narratives in Formal Analysis of Popular Music – Jocelyn Neal (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)
    • Renaissance Instrumental Music – Peter Schubert (McGill University)
  • 2013
    • The Idea of Musical Form as Process, from Analytic and Performance Perspectives – Janet Schmalfeldt (Tufts University)
    • What is Metric Well Formedness? – Justin London (Carleton College)
  • 2012
    • Harmony and Voice Leading in Rock and Pop Music – Walt Everett (University of Michigan)
    • A Corpus-Based Approach to Tonal Theory – Ian Quinn (Yale University)
  • 2011
    • Exploring Musical Spaces – Julian Hook (Indiana University)
  • 2010
    • Stravinsky – Gretchen Horlacher (Indiana University)
    • Musical Narrative – Michael Klein (Temple University)
  • 2009
    • Music Pedagogy – Brian Alegant (Oberlin College)
    • Schenkerian Analysis – Poundie Burstein (City University of New York)
  • 2008
    • Musical Meaning in Beethoven – Robert Hatten (Indiana University)
    • Analyzing Contemporary Music – John Roeder (University of British Columbia)
  • 2007
    • Sonata Theory – James Hepokoski (Yale University) and Warren Darcy (Oberlin College)
    • Analyzing Early Music – Cristle Collins Judd (Bowdoin College)
  • 2006
    • Voice Leading in Atonal Music – Joseph Straus (City University of New York)


For additional information, please contact Vasili Byros, Chair of the Committee on Workshop Programs, at The 2018 Committee on Workshop Programs also includes Richard Cohn (Yale University), Orit Hilewicz (Eastman School of Music), and Roman Ivanovitch (Indiana University).

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