Peer Learning Program (PLP)

PLP Workshops

Peer Learning Program workshops are three-hour seminars led by prominent scholars. They provide the opportunity to learn—from the workshop leader as well as from peers—new perspectives on fundamental issues in music theory, and to apply that learning to research and teaching. The program is intended to encourage “thinking together,” in the spirit of the Mannes Institute founded by Wayne Alpern and organized by him during the years 2001–11. The topics range widely across music-theoretical research and teaching interests. Some reading and mental preparation are required, but not extensive written assignments, in consideration of the professional responsibilities of the participants. To encourage interaction, each workshop is limited to approximately 10–12 participants. Since its inception, a total of 44 participants have taken part in the PLP.


To apply, please send your name, email, and the name of the school from which you received your doctoral degree to Jennifer Diaz at Please be sure to indicate which workshop(s) you are applying for—you may apply for one or both. Applications are due by June 15, 2019; selected participants will be notified shortly thereafter. Please note that PLP workshops will take place the morning of Thursday November 7; by applying you are committing to arrive at the conference in time to participate in the workshop.


The workshops are open to all members of the Society who have completed a doctoral degree. Participants are selected by a random draw from the pool of eligible applicants. Prior PLP participants are permitted to apply, but preference will be given to first-time applicants.


There is no fee to participate in the program. Participants are responsible, however, for the cost of SMT membership and conference registration (but not at the time of application), as well as for other expenses of attendance, including transportation, housing, and meals.

2019 Workshops

Analyzing Soundtracks

James Buhler (University of Texas)

This workshop examines the special problems that music for media poses for analysts. How does film and media music differ from other music, and how does analysis need to shift to account for those differences? How if at all does diffusion of authorship affect our analysis? To what extent are traditional methods of musical analysis applicable when the score is absent? What is the range of analytical representations that have been developed? How can analytical representations illustrate the play of an integrated soundtrack, music’s role in it, and what might be termed the general audiovisuality of media? The emphasis will be on film soundtracks but, time permitting, we will also examine some of the principal differences between film, television, and video game music and the challenges each presents for analysis.

Elastic Temporalities: Analyzing Madrigals in Monteverdi’s Book V

Susan McClary (Case Western University)

Five years before it reached publication in 1605, Monteverdi’s Book V had already provoked critical responses from theorist Giovanni Maria Artusi, who objected to the composer’s use of illicit dissonances. The madrigal that opens this collection, “Cruda Amarilli,” became a touchstone for debates concerning harmony and the expression of extreme affects. Perhaps more radical, however, were Monteverdi’s experiments in this volume with temporality, made possible by the new technology of basso continuo. In this workshop, we will examine several madrigals from Book V, paying particular attention to Monteverdi’s temporal strategies. Like his transgressive dissonance treatment, the passages displaying expansion relate to the poetic texts he chose to set. But the implications of these moments for the history of musical style go far beyond mere word painting. They provide the tools for very different ways of organizing pitches, rhythms, and structures.

Previous PLP Workshops

  • 2018
    • Whose Body/Whose Beat? The Beat as Embodied Phenomenon in Music Theory and Popular Music - Mark Butler (Northwestern University)
    • Techniques of the Listener - Brian Kane (Yale University)
  • 2017
    • Music Analysis: what can it do? – Judy Lochhead (Stony Brook University)
    • Pitch Structure in Indian Classical Music – Robert Morris (Eastman School of Music)
  • 2016
    • Empirical Approaches to Musical Narrative – Elizabeth Hellmuth Margulis (University of Arkansas)
    • The Musical Language of Il trovatore – William Rothstein (The Graduate Center and Queens College, City University of New York)
  • 2015
    • Analytical Tools and Approaches to Contemporary Tonal Music – Daniel Harrison (Yale University)
    • Problematics of World Music Analysis – Michael Tenzer (University of British Columbia)
  • 2014
    • Writing about Hearing and Making Aggregate-Based Music – Andrew Mead (Indiana University)
    • Shostakovich's Twelfth String Quartet – Patrick McCreless (Yale University)
  • 2013
    • Tonal Theory, Tonal Experience – Steven Rings (University of Chicago)


For additional information, please contact Richard Cohn, Chair of the Committee on Workshop Programs, at The 2019 Committee on Workshop Programs also includes Eric McKee, Emily Gertsch, and Dmitri Tymoczko.

Workshop opportunities are also available for students.