Music Theory @ UofT

Music Theory is the study of musical structure. We learn how music in historic and contemporary styles is constructed; how to deconstruct it through analysis and analytical modeling; and how to understand it through hermeneutic and historically informed interpretation. The Music Theory faculty at the University of Toronto—Ellie Hisama, Ryan McClelland, Mark Sallmen, Daphne Tan, Steven Vande Moortele, and Anton Vishio—features scholars and pedagogues with a variety of backgrounds and specializations, with a focus on music from the early nineteenth century until today.

All undergraduate students build musical fluency through two years of core courses in music theory, musicianship, and other skills. At the advanced undergraduate level, Music Theory features a variety of specialized courses, offering students the possibility to graduate with a major in Music History, Culture, and Theory within the BMus program.

At the graduate level, the combination of scholarly excellence, the intimate scale of the program, and the close ties to Musicology and Ethnomusicology make for a vibrant, friendly, and intellectually engaging environment that attracts top-level students pursuing the course-intensive MA or the research-oriented PhD in music theory. Graduate students receive ample opportunity to gain professional experience through teaching and research assistantships. They also benefit from the presence of the Institute for Music in Canada (IMC), the Centre for the Study of Nineteenth-Century Music (CSNCM) and the Music and Health Research Collaboratory (MaHRC) as well as from the regular presentations by guest speakers in the colloquium series, the graduate student roundtables, and special events such as the Form Forum.


  • Matthew Poon (PhD 2022; Visiting Assistant Professor of Music Theory, Oberlin Conservatory of Music) has accepted a tenure-track position as Assistant Professor of Music Theory at the University of Wisconsin Eau Claire
  • September Russell (PhD 2020) has been appointed Assistant Professor of Music Theory at the University of Regina (tenure track)
  • Dan Deutsch (PhD 2018) has accepted a three-year postdoctoral fellowship at the Polonsky Academy for Advanced Study in the Humanities and Social Sciences, Jerusalem (2022–25) 
  • Prof. Anton Vishio presented a paper on Iannis Xenakis’s La légende d’Eer at the CUNY Grad Center as part of the Meta-Xenakis Global Symposium (September 2022) and the paper “‘where mere words fail’: Text, Melody and Image in Three Songs by Tagore” at the University of Toronto Musicology, Ethnomusicology, and Music Theory Graduate Colloquium (January 2023)
  • Prof. Daphne TanAlexis Millares Thomson, Tegan Ridge, and Emma Soldaat presented a poster “Public Music Theory, Then and Now: An Introduction to the Victor Zuckerkandl Index” at the 2022 Annual Meeting of the Society for Music Theory in New Orleans (November 2022)
  • Emma Soldaat (PhD candidate) presented the papers “Closure and Cadence in the Scherzo of Mahler’s Seventh Symphony” at the Society for Music Analysis (July 2022) and “Rotation and Recomposition in Mahler’s Seventh Symphony” at the Royal Musical Association annual meeting (September 2022)
  • Prof. Daphne Tan, together with Christoph Neidhöfer, published the first English-language translation of Ernst Kurth’s Music Psychology (Routledge, 2022)
  • Alexis Millares Thomson, Matthew Poon, and Emma Soldaat presented the paper “Formal Compression in Beethoven’s One Page Expositions: Opp. 101 and 109” at the 2022 Music Theory Midwest conference at the University of Kansas (May 2022).
  • Michelle Grosser (PhD candidate) presented the paper “‘Even Though it’s Completely Random’: Cognitive Phenomena Surrounding the Music in Minecraft” at Press Start: A Video Game Symposium at the University of North Texas (Denton, TX, March 2022). In 2022–23, Michelle is Adjunct Professor of Music Theory at East Tennessee State University.
  • Prof. Mark Sallmen‘s article “‘A whole series of different kinds of inter-relations’ in the Second Movement of Carter’s Sonata for Flute, Oboe, Cello and Harpsichord (1952)” appeared in Elliott Carter Studies Online (2021)