7th April 2022, 6.30 pm (UK time)

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In this paper I survey the state of the field of popular-music analysis. I begin with an overview of some problems that need to be addressed. The most pressing among these are the global social problems of racial, gender, and class inequity, which have recently received some scholarly attention within the discipline of music theory. There are no easy solutions to these issues, but I advocate for increased public outreach and curricular reform as initial steps toward greater equity in the field. In the second part of the paper, I provide a survey of some current research in various analytical domains: pitch structures, form, rhythm and meter, timbre, texture, and recording techniques. I present some new ideas of other scholars’ and of my own, comment on new trends in the field, and suggest new directions moving forward.


Nicole Biamonte is associate professor of music theory at McGill University in Montreal. She has an undergraduate degree in piano from the State University of New York at Purchase, and a PhD in music theory from Yale University. She has published articles and book chapters on pitch structures, form, and rhythm and meter in popular music; on musical historicism in the 19th century; and an edited collection, Pop-Culture Pedagogy in the Music Classroom. She is a past editor of Music Theory Online. Her current work focuses on timbre and texture in pop and rock music.