Dr. John Roeder

Chair, Music Theory Division
Professor, Music Theory

A.B. (Harvard), Ph.D (Yale)

Music Building
Tel. 604-822-3715


Current courses


As a music theorist and analyst, I describe ways that people conceive of music, and how music is heard to organize time coherently, expressively, and meaningfully. I concentrate on music of special relevance today: recent works by contemporary composers in the Western art-music tradition, and the “world music” that globalization is now bringing to everyone’s ears. I have also directed graduate-student research in popular music, jazz, Renaissance polyphony, phenomenology, and spectral music.

I am especially interested in rhythm, meter, musical transformations, mathematical and computational approaches to music, issues of semiosis and representation, and processive approaches to music. From 2000-2007 I directed research into strategies for preserving digitally created information, including music, as a member of the InterPARES project. I have held grants from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada to study Transformation in Contemporary Art Music, Periodicity in Music, and Approaches to the Analysis of Musical Time (the latter two in collaboration with my ethnomusicologist colleague, Michael Tenzer).

I’ve served on the editorial boards of Perspectives of New Music , Music Theory Spectrum, and Journal of Music Theory. I’ve been active in the Society for Music Theory, chairing, for instance, the Publications Committee. In June 2003 I conducted a Workshop at the Mannes Institute for Advanced Studies in Music Theory on “Transformational Approaches to Contemporary Music,” and in November 2008 I led a seminar on “Analyzing Contemporary Music” for the Graduate Student Workshop Program of the Society for Music Theory.





Book chapters