Oxford Seminar in Music Theory & Analysis

We are delighted to announce below the programme for OSiMTA Season 3 (2020-21). These seminars will take place via Zoom in Michaelmas Term; the format of meetings after January 2021 will depend on the advice received regarding the evolving Covid-19 situation.


Students and staff of Oxford University have been given priority to sign up for the first meeting on 21 October (see below). We have already reached our Zoom capacity, so we regret it will not be possible to open this meeting up to other attendees.

All are welcome to sign up here for the seminar on 18 November using this form (subject to availability of places).


The Oxford Seminar in Music Theory & Analysis (OSiMTA) meets two or three times a term. Its convenors are Professor Jonathan Cross and Dr Sebastian Wedler.

Our conception of theory and analysis is critical, plural and interdisciplinary. In shaping the seminars, we aim to reflect the broad range of activity taking place under the heading of theory and analysis today, as well as to challenge boundaries, embracing not only ‘conventional’ practices, histories of theory and repertoires, but also new interdisciplinary approaches that engage with cultural studies, ethnomusicology, aesthetics and philosophy, psychology, politics, performance studies, popular music studies, and so on. Speakers include distinguished local, national and international scholars.

Most seminars are open to all, including the general public. Sessions will last 90 minutes and lively discussion is encouraged. They take place on Wednesday afternoons, beginning at 16.30 UK time (currently via Zoom)

Regular updates will appear on these pages. You can also follow OSiMTA on Twitter.

The abstract for the latest seminar can be found below. Abstracts for the seminars in Seasons 1 & 2 can be found by following the link on the left.

For further information email Jonathan.Cross@music.ox.ac.uk or Sebastian.Wedler@music.ox.ac.uk


Season 3 (2020–21)

21 October 2020
Philip Ewell (Hunter College, New York)
How We Got Here, Where To Now?

18 November 2020
Barbara Bleij (Amsterdam Conservatorium)
‘Current trends in jazz theory and analysis: reading Wayne Shorter’

Please sign up here for the seminar on 18 November using this form.

27 January 2021
J.P.E. Harper-Scott (Royal Holloway, University of London)
‘Tonality and the capitalist mode of exploitation’

24 February 2021
Catherine Bradley (University of Oslo)
‘Fragments from a medieval motet manuscript in Stockholm: perspectives for theory and analysis’

5 May 2021
Nicola Dibben (University of Sheffield)
‘Analysing musical new media: music in mobile apps and extended reality’

19 May 2021
David Bretherton (University of Southampton)
‘Schubert’s sexuality and queer music theory’


Next seminar:

Wednesday 21 October 2020 (via Zoom)
Philip Ewell (Hunter College, New York)
How We Got Here, Where To Now?

The societal tipping point that is so often cited in the United States these days is intimately linked with our past, a troubled and, at times, violent past that has infused virtually everything that we Americans do. This past is now under great scrutiny in music studies, in how we teach music to our students, how we examine music in analysis, and how we choose the music we professional musicians consider worthy of attention. In this talk I consider our past so that we might chart a path for the future. Only through an exhaustive study of the past can we truly understand why the academic study of music is what it is today, a study that remains exclusionist with respect to musics that are not centered around both whiteness and maleness. In coming to terms with this difficult past we together – white, black, and everyone in between – can create a new academic study of music, rich and inclusive, which will be rewarding and emancipating for all.

To prepare for this seminar, all attendees are strongly encouraged to read in advance Professor Ewell’s recent article, ‘Music theory and the white racial frame’ in Music Theory Online.

Philip Ewell is an Associate Professor of Music Theory at Hunter College of the City University of New York, where he serves as Director of Graduate Studies in the music department. His specialties include Russian music and music theory, Russian opera, modal theory, and critical-race studies. He received the 2019–2020 ‘Presidential Award for Excellence in Creative Work’ at Hunter College, and he is the ‘Susan McClary and Robert Walser Fellow’ of the American Council of Learned Societies for 2020–21. He is also a ‘Virtual Scholar in Residence’ at the University of the Pacific Conservatory of Music for 2020–21. As a result of his ACLS award, he is currently working on a monograph combining race and feminist studies with music and music theory.