Oxford Seminar in Music Theory & Analysis

We are delighted to announce below the programme for OSiMTA Season 3 (2020-21). These seminars will all take place via Zoom.

Sign-up to attend the next meetings by clicking on the links: 5 May (Dibben) and 19 May (Bretherton).


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


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’

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

24 February 2021
Catherine A. 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 multimedia: music in mobile apps and extended reality’

Click here to sign up to attend this seminar.

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

Click here to sign up to attend this seminar.


Next seminar:

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

This paper investigates an emerging new musical multimedia form—interactive musical/sonic art experiences in audio augmented reality. It is common to think of augmented reality as visual, in which imagery is overlaid onto a scene viewed through a screen. However, it can also take aural form—audio augmented reality— in which (spatialised) headphone sound is integrated with (or more commonly) overlays audio from the physical environment surrounding the listener. Previous research has focused on the technical challenges and realisation of sound spatialisation, interactivity, and storytelling in extended reality formats. It has less frequently addressed what audio augmented reality means for musicking (presentational and participatory) and musical aesthetics. In this paper I identify distinct approaches to music in audio augmented reality, and use this to contextualise analyses of specific musical examples, including Moonmoons AR app (Anna Meredith, 2019) and Bloom: Open Space Hololens installation (Brian Eno and Peter Chilvers, 2018). I use these to highlight specific material, aesthetic and phenomenological characteristics of and possibilities for audio augmented reality music, including compositional and listener agency and interactivity, visualisation of sound, the open-work and ludification. In doing so I reflect on what the important music-analytic questions might be about these media and what kinds of theory and analytical methods might be needed to better understand them.

Nicola Dibben is Professor in Music and Faculty Director of Research at the University of Sheffield, and former editor of the academic journals Empirical Musicology Review and Popular Music. Her research investigates how people engage with music (primarily through listening) and what that engagement means for how people think about and make sense of themselves and the world. She does this through case studies and methods from the science and psychology of music and popular music studies – interests she attributes to encountering empirical methods while an undergraduate, and to a childhood infatuation with British TV chart show Top of the Pops. She has published over 60 journal articles and book chapters, and is the author of Björk (2009), and co-authored Music and Mind in Everyday Life (2010) and edited Sounds Icelandic (2019). Her commercial collaborations include investigating effects of music on driving, and working with Björk on the artist’s multi-media app album, Biophilia (2011). Current projects include a monograph on how digitalisation is impacting the experience of recorded music, partly researched while Visiting Scholar at Stanford University, USA.