My research specializations are in timbre and popular music.


My research specializations are in timbre and popular music. My dissertation establishes a new approach to the analysis of timbre, which blends spectrogram analysis and cultural studies and ethnographies. I focused there on 1980s popular music and the Yamaha DX7 synthesizer. I am currently expanding this project to study video game soundtracks from games released for the Sega Genesis.

For future projects, I may look at other important 1980s instruments, such as the Roland TR-808 Rhythm Composer, or other synthesizers available in Mason’s music technology department’s vintage synthesizer collection (!). I am beginning to explore the latest ’80s revival genres, such as vaporwave, and their interactions with music from the 1980s.

I am interested in the interactions between timbre, aesthetics, and “bad music.” Some old music is “classic,” while other old music is “dated.” What makes these distinctions? I believe the distinctions are based on timbre. I am investigating this in 1980s popular music, and also early 2000s popular music, such as the music composed by producer Max Martin (who wrote for *NSYNC, Backstreet Boys, and Britney Spears).

I am also passionate about Schenkerian analysis. I am interested in stretching the boundaries of what music is “Schenkable,” because no other theory imposes such deep communion between the analyst and the tones of the piece.


“What makes it sound ’80s?”: The Yamaha DX7 Electric Piano Sound

In Journal of Popular Music Studies, 31/1, forthcoming.

Timbre, Genre, and Polystylism in Sonic the Hedgehog 3

In Music and Its Unruly Entanglements, ed. Nick Braae and Kai Arne Hansen. Palgrave Macmillan, forthcoming.

Supplementary examples can be viewed here.

Begging to Be Seen: Beyoncé’s Partition

Co-authored book chapter. Under review at Routledge. In Song Interpretation in 21st-century Popular Music, Vol. II, ed. Ralf von Appen, André Doehring, Dietrich Helms, and Allan F. Moore. Co-authors: Chris Kattenbeck, Sean Peterson, Holger Schwetter, and Júlia Silveira.


“New Approach to the Analysis of Timbre.” 2017.

View the dissertation website, with download links and supplementary examples, here.


Diversifying the Theory Curriculum: How to Open Multiple Pathways through the Theory Core

Joint panel with Andrew Gades and Crystal Peebles. Presented at The 2nd Pedagogy Into Practice Conference, 2019.

From Cheesy to Chill: The Shift in Popular Opinions of Digital Synthesis and the 1980s

Ppresented at the 49th Pop Culture Association and American Culture Association annual conference, 2019

A New Approach to Analysis of Timbre: A Study in Timbre Narratives and Instrumentation in 1980s Pop download poster

Presented at the 41st Annual Meeting of the Society for Music Theory; Timbre is a Many-Splendored Thing; 2018

Presented at 26th Annual Meeting of Music Theory Southeast, 2017
Winner, Best Student Paper Award

Analyzing Sound, Analyzing Timbre

Presented at the 19th Biennial Conference of the International Association for the Study of Popular Music, 2017

Everything’s Synth!”: The Problem, or the Charm, of the ’80s Sound

Presented at ›Klang‹: Wundertüte oder Stiefkind der Musiktheorie (16th Annual Meeting of the Gesellschaft für Musiktheorie), 2016

Following Schenker’s Lead in the Analysis of Stravinsky download

Presented at the Music Theory Society of New York State 45th Annual Meeting, 2016; 5th Biennial Student Conference of the Music Theory & Musicology Society of University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, 2014

“Oops!… I Did It Again”: Max Martin’s Complement Chorus download

Presented at the Society for Music Theory 38th Annual Meeting, 2015

Rhythmic and Timbral Associations in Sufjan Stevens’s “Come On, Feel the Illinoise!” download handout

Presented at the Society for Music Theory 36th Annual Meeting; Music Theory Society of New York State 42nd Annual Meeting; Music Theory Society of the Mid-Atlantic 11th Annual Meeting; Music Theory Forum at Florida State University 29th Annual Meeting; 2013.