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 internationally renowned 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.


  • No fewer than four of our alumni started new jobs this fall: Caitlin Martinkus (PhD 2017; previously Collegiate Assistant Professor of Music Theory, Virginia Tech) and Scott Hanenberg (PhD 2018; previously Instructor of Music Theory and Music Technology, Virginia Tech) have accepted full-time continuing positions at the Cleveland Institute of Music; Matthew Poon (PhD 2022; previously Visiting Assistant Professor of Music Theory, Oberlin Conservatory of Music) started a tenure-track position as Assistant Professor of Music Theory at the University of Wisconsin Eau Claire; and Dan Deutsch (PhD 2018; previously Postdoctoral Fellow at the Polonsky Academy for Advanced Study in the Humanities and Social Sciences, Jerusalem) is now Senior Lecturer at Haifa University (Israel). Congratulations to all!
  • Hannah Davis-Abraham published an article entitled “Pacing, Performance, and Perception in Alice Ping Yee Ho’s Angst” in Contemporary Music Review (July 2023). She also presented a paper “Hypnagogia, Oppression and Sexual Desire in Rebecca Saunders’ O” at the Society for Music Theory conference in November 2023.
  • Michelle Grosser’s article “’Even Though it’s Completely Random’: Cognitive Phenomena Surrounding the Music in Minecraft” is forthcoming in the Journal of Sound and Music in Games in January 2024.
  • Evan Tanovich presented his paper “Analyzing Displacement Techniques in Prokofiev’s Music” at the Society for Music Theory conference in November 2023.
  • Prof. Mark Sallmen’s article “SLIDE in a Leading Role: Pitch Structure in Barrie Cabena’s Sonata Festiva” recently appeared in Intersections, volume 40.2.
  • Prof. Steven Vande Moortele contributed an article “An den Grenzen der Sonatenform” to a special issue of Musiktheorie (2023) on “Neue Wege, alte Normen—quo vadis Sonata Theory?” edited by Stefan Keym and Markus Neuwirth.
  • Prof. Daphne Tan received a 2023 Early Career Supervision Award, given by the School of Graduate Studies. The award recognizes pre-tenure faculty members who have demonstrated excellence in the various roles associated with graduate supervision. Furthermore, her recent edition of Ernst Kurth’s Music Psychology (trans. Daphne Tan and Christoph Neidhöfer—Routledge, 2022) was awarded a citation of special merit from the Society of Music Theory.