The teaching and research of theorists are concentrated upon developing models and methods for understanding musical languages. How are specific pieces of music put together and how may this be generalized to relate to the way other pieces of music are composed? First and second year theory classes incorporate a combination of writing skills and analysis, whereas teaching in upper years focuses upon analysis. More specialized courses in such subjects as the application of mathematical models to music analysis and Renaissance-style counterpoint are available to the advanced theory major.
Recent graduate seminar topics in music theory have included:
Timbre and Form, Origins of Classical Phrase Structure, Historical Improvisation in Theory and Practice, Music of Messiaen, Music and Narrativity, Oster's Note: Research Problems in Schenkerian Theory and Analysis, Twentieth-Century Choral Music, Music and Chance, Schubert and Beethoven, Analysis of Sibelius Symphonies, Theory and Analysis of Rock Music, Theories of Rhythm and Meter, Music Theory Pedagogy, Cadence, Tonality and Form in Schubert, Darmstadt Avant-Garde, Music Since 1980, Analyzing Monteverdi.
Theory Area Chair:
Robert Hasegawa, Ph.D. (Harvard)
Associate Member: Prof. Stephen McAdams, Ph.D. (Stanford)
Graduates of the McGill PhD program in music theory have obtained faculty positions at Oberlin Conservatory, McGill University, University of Ottawa, Carleton University, Loyola University, Wilfrid Laurier University, University of Saskatchewan, Université de Montréal, and Université de Sherbrooke, and a postdoctoral position at the University of Vienna.
Graduates of the McGill MA program in music theory have gone on to further study at Yale University, University of Chicago, Eastman School of Music, Harvard University, University of Cambridge, University of Michigan, University of Minnesota, University of Toronto, City University of New York, McGill University, and Université de Montréal.
After completing PhD degrees elsewhere, McGill MA graduates have obtained faculty positions at Indiana University, Oberlin Conservatory, McGill University, University of British Columbia, University of Michigan, University of Toronto, University of Western Ontario, University of Alberta, Wilfrid Laurier University, Dalhousie University, Brandon University, and Brooklyn College.