Music Theory

The Music Theory track is one of the most successful in the U.S. Our graduates have accepted full-time employment at Yale, Temple, Swarthmore, Bowling Green, Ithaca College, American University, Arizona State and many other world-class institutions.

Degree Options

Graduate: MA in Music Theory, PhD in Music Theory and Historical Musicology

Undergraduate students interested in Music Theory are encouraged to pursue a BA in Music and adopt Music Theory as their advisement track. 

Music Theory Highlights

Our students receive a thorough grounding in the standard disciplines, including history of theory, Schenkerian analysis, and set theory, while mastering promising new areas of research, such as Neo-Riemannian transformations, diatonic set theory, and intertextuality.

Recent doctoral seminars have addressed the music of Stravinsky, the music of Ives, and 19th- & 20th-century tonal chromaticism. Our graduates produce dissertations on topics as diverse as microtonal music by Haba, form in Takemitsu's music, harmony in Schoenberg"s Gurrelieder, and gravitational space as a metaphor for analysis.

The linchpin of our program is the Slee Chair, the oldest fully endowed professorship of Music Theory in the country. The program is also home to the Slee Institute of Tonal Harmony, which seeks to integrate the highest-level of systematic speculative research in music theory with the everyday business of teaching harmony to undergraduate students.

Another central resource is the Music Library, conveniently located on-site in the music building, which has unusually strong collections in the areas of jazz, rare editions, and contemporary music. The strong contemporary music presence and distinguished musicology faculty at UB also ensure a lively, interdisciplinary community of composers, performers, and scholars.

Our Faculty

The music theory faculty is comprised of distinguished scholars and musicians who offer a unique mix of traditional musical disciplines that foster individual creativity. The department's low student-teacher ratio ensures that students receive a high degree of individual instruction and supervision.

Charles J. Smith

Director of Graduate Studies; Associate Professor (Music Theory); Music Theory Unit Coordinator; Director, Slee Institute of Tonal Harmony; Slee Chair in Music Theory

Department of Music

410 Baird Hall

Phone: (716) 645-0639

Email: cjsmith@buffalo.edu

Brian Mosely

Assistant Professor (Music Theory)

Department of Music

418 Baird Hall

Phone: (716) 645-0646

Email: brianmos@buffalo.edu

Richard Plotkin

Assistant Professor (Music Theory)

Department of Music

422 Baird Hall

Phone: (716) 645-0642

Email: richardp@buffalo.edu