Peer Learning Program (PLP)

PLP Workshops

Peer Learning Program workshops are three-hour seminars led by prominent scholars. They provide the opportunity to learn—from the workshop leader as well as from peers—new perspectives on fundamental issues in music theory, and to apply that learning to research and teaching. The program is intended to encourage “thinking together,” in the spirit of the Mannes Institute founded by Wayne Alpern and organized by him during the years 2001–11. The topics range widely across music-theoretical research and teaching interests. Some reading and mental preparation are required, but not extensive written assignments, in consideration of the professional responsibilities of the participants. To encourage interaction, each workshop is limited to approximately 10–12 participants. Since its inception, a total of 44 participants have taken part in the PLP.

The 2016 workshops were offered on Thursday morning, November 3, prior to the start of the SMT annual meeting in Vancouver.


To apply, please send your name, email, and the name of the school from which you received your doctoral degree to Andrew Mead at Please be sure to indicate which workshop(s) you are applying for—you may apply for one or both. Applications are due by 1 July 2017; 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. Please note that PLP workshops will take place the morning of Thursday November 3; by applying you are committing to arrive at the conference in time to participate in the workshop.


The workshops are open to all members of the Society who have completed a doctoral degree. Participants are not expected to be experts in the subject matter of the workshop, but should have a serious interest in and commitment to learning about it. They are selected by a random draw from the pool of eligible applicants. Prior PLP 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.

2017 Workshops

Judy Lochhead (Stony Brook University) Music Analysis: what can it do?

This workshop focuses generally on the changing conceptions and roles of music analysis for musical practices--for music theory, composition, performance, musicology, criticism, and listening. In particular, we will consider analysis as a hermeneutical activity, the reflexive relation between analysis and theory, the possible goals of analysis, the impact of non-foundationalist and materialist philosophical thought on analysis, and the analytic challenges of contemporary classical music.

Robert Morris (Eastman School of Music) Pitch Structure in Indian Classical Music

Until the mid 1960s and even up to about 2005, research by Western scholars on the classical music of India (both Hindustani and Carnatic music) was mostly limited to those who had studied in India or in the West with Indian teachers, or had access to recordings and texts not published in the West. The present situation is quite different; the recent, exponential increase in the number of videos, recordings, and texts generally available makes it possible for any suitably motivated person to learn enough about the theory and practice of Indian music to eventually contribute to ongoing research.

This workshop on will take advantage of the wealth of high-quality material on Indian classical music that is available on the internet, in addition to scholarly literature published in English in the west and in India. The topics studied may intersect with the research interests of the participants, including scale and tuning theory, transformational and network theory, set theory, generalized tonality, jazz, twentieth-century music, computer assisted spectrum analysis, theory and performance, repertoire classification, and big data.

The workshop will have two preliminary phases conducted via email: learning about Indian music from pedagogical sources on the internet (as well as books); then an introduction to some topics of interest in western studies of Indian music:  scales, raga identity and classification, questions of order and ornamentation, transcribing Indian music into western notation, difference in raga performance practices across different traditions in both Hindustani and Carnatic music, harmonization of Indian scales and ragas, analysis of compositions within a raga.

I welcome the participants to contribute in the workshop session any way from joining in discussion, bringing up issues and ideas (perhaps suggested by their own research specialties), sharing a transcription, to even delivering a short seminar paper.

Previous PLP Workshops

  • 2016: Empirical Approaches to Musical NarrativeLeader:Elizabeth Hellmuth Margulis (University of Arkansas); The Musical Language of Il trovatore Leader: William Rothstein (The Graduate Center and Queens College, City University of New York)
  • 2015: Analytical Tools and Approaches to Contemporary Tonal Music Leader:Daniel Harrison (Yale University); Problematics of World Music Analysis Leader: Michael Tenzer (University of British Columbia).
  • 2014: Writing about Hearing and Making Aggregate-Based Music Leader: Andrew Mead (Indiana University); Shostakovich's Twelfth String Quartet Leader: Patrick McCreless (Yale University).
  • 2013: Tonal Theory, Tonal Experience Leader: Steven Rings (University of Chicago)


For additional information, please contact Andrew Mead, Chair of the Committee on Workshop Programs, at The 2017 Committee on Workshop Programs also includes Alan Gosman (University of Arkansas), Antares Boyle (University of British Columbia) and Vasili Byros (Northwestern University).

Workshop opportunities are also available for students.