Graduate Studies in Music History-Theory and Ethnomusicology

The Stony Brook Department of Music offers graduate degrees in the History and Theory of Music and in Ethnomusicology. Students in these programs have the opportunity to engage with a broad historical and cultural span of music.  Our faculty pursue ambitious, far-reaching research agendas, and encourage our students to take up similarly cross-disciplinary questions and projects.  Recent seminars and symposia have explored sound studies, operatic dramaturgy, global protest music, theories of affect, print culture, music and belief, and recent Continental philosophy. Students in Ethnomusicology and History-Theory interact as members of a comprehensive music department with world-renowned performance and composition programs. Career development and professionalization occur at every stage of the degree, working toward conference presentations, publications, and a competitive professional portfolio.

Students in Graduate Programs in History-Theory and Ethnomusicology: 

  • Interact with faculty on a regular basis, receiving highly individualized attention and close supervision.

  • May take seminars in the New York Metro Consortium, which includes Columbia, NYU, Princeton, CUNY, and others.

  • May complete graduate certificates in Women’s Studies, Cultural Studies, Philosophy and the Arts, and Media, Art, Culture, & Technology

  • Benefit from doctoral committees that comprise faculty from across music’s sub-disciplines.

Current Faculty Include: 

Margarethe Adams: Ethnomusicology
Catherine Bradley: Medieval/Renaissance
Erika S. Honisch: 16th-17th Centuries
David Lawton: 19th Century Opera
Judith Lochhead: 20-21st Centuries
Ryan Minor: 19th Century
Stephen D. Smith: 19th-20th Centuries
Benjamin TausigEthnomusicology (Southeast Asia, sound studies)

Recent Seminars Include:

Ethnomusicology and Social Theory (Adams)
Exploring 13th-Century Polyphony (Bradley)
Performance Spaces of the Baroque (Honisch)
Listening, Hearing, Perception: Contests of the Ear (Lochhead)
Operatic Spectatorship from Gluck to Wagner (Minor)
Critical Theory for Music Studies (Smith)
Music, Tension, and Conflict (Tausig)

Some Recent Stony Brook Dissertations (completed or in progress):
  • Amy Shapiro, "Sixty Years at the New York Philharmonic Through the Eyes of Clarinetist Stanley Drucker: An Oral History of the Philharmonic Community, 1948-2008"
  • David Blake, “Bildung Distinctions: Cultivating Popular Music in the American University, 1960–2010”

  • Katherine Kaiser, “Singing Subjects/Vocal Objects: The Recorded Voice in Modern Music”

  • Michael Richardson, “Medievalism and Nationalism in Early Nineteenth-Century German Opera”

  • Alecia Barbour, “Music and Remembrance: Listening to U.S. ‘Internment’ Camps, 1939-1947”

  • Aaron Hayes, “The Discourse on Time in the European Post-War Avant-Garde
  • Cordelia Chenault, “Behind a Flourishing Avant-Garde: An Institutional History of Recent Opera Production in Germany”

  • Benjamin Downs, “Dividing Sense from Sense: Post-War Avant-Garde Music and the Politics of Listening”

For more information, please contact Ryan Minor at

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