Current Music Theory and Cognition Students

Bruno AlcaldeBruno Alcalde

PhD candidate • brunoalcalde@u.northwestern.edu

Bruno Alcalde is originally from Porto Alegre, Brazil. He holds a bachelor's degree in composition from Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul (Brazil) and a master's degree in music theory from Indiana University. Bruno's main instrument is electric guitar and he has performed with rock, jazz, and Brazilian music groups throughout the years. As a composer, his chamber music works have been performed several times in Brazil. In 2008 he released an album with the group of Brazilian composers Avante. Bruno taught music theory, composition, and arranging of popular music for two years at Universidade do Vale do Rio dos Sinos (Brazil) before coming to the United States to further his studies. His main research interests are music style and genre, hybridity in music, and communicational issues of 20th-century music (concert and popular). Other interests include topic theory, situated cognition, and the study of record production in popular music. His work on these areas has been presented in the United States and abroad. Bruno is currently working on his dissertation, which develops an analytical framework for style and genre mixtures in the music of the post-1950s.

Anjni AminAnjni Amin

3rd Year PhD • anjniamin2014@u.northwestern.edu

Anjni Amin was born and raised in New York. She received her Bachelor of Science in music education and teaching certification from The College of Saint Rose. She holds a Master of Music degree in music theory and cognition from Northwestern University, where her studies with Richard Ashley culminated in her thesis project investigating the relationship between timbre and emotion perception in culturally unfamiliar music. Anjni taught K-12 general and instrumental music before returning to Northwestern University to further her studies. Her primary research focuses on assessing the psychological reality of the music-theoretical concept of tāl in North Indian music, aiming to understand the acquisition of mental constructs that facilitate the perception of meter and tension/release in Hindustani music and alternatively, their application to other musics. Recently, Anjni presented on North Indian folk music and dance at the annual meeting for the Society for Ethnomusicology. Additional musical interests include expressive performance skill acquisition and development, music and emotion, theory pedagogy, and multi-cultural music education.

Sean CurticeSean Curtice

2nd Year PhD • seancurtice2016@u.northwestern.edu 

Sean Curtice is from San Diego, California. He received his Bachelor of Arts in music and English at Wesleyan University, where his honors thesis included the composition of a piano concerto in the style of Mozart. He holds a Master of Arts in Composition and Music Theory from the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis in Basel, Switzerland, where he studied under Felix Diergarten and Johannes Menke. His master's thesis was a complete edition of the partimenti of Luigi Cherubini and a study of the Neapolitan-inspired teaching methods developed at the Paris Conservatory under Cherubini's directorship. He is also co-editor of a new German-English edition of Hans Peter Weber's Generalbass-Compendium, used for decades in ear-training classes at the Schola and other German-language conservatories. Sean's musical interests include period composition and historical music theory, particularly thoroughbass practice of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

Sarah GatesSarah Gates

3rd Year PhD • sarahgates2015@u.northwestern.edu

Sarah Gates completed an Honours Bachelor of Music in saxophone performance and contemporary composition at Wilfrid Laurier University (2011), as well as a Master of Music in saxophone performance at the University of Toronto (2013). She recently finished a Master of Arts in Music Theory at McGill University where she studied under Stephen McAdams and Robert Hasegawa. Her thesis project, which was awarded the Joseph Armand Bombardier Award (CGS-M) by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, investigated perceptual interactions of pitch and timbre by exploring the effect of timbre change on musicians’ ability to categorically identify melodic intervals. Empirical findings from her research projects have recently been presented the International Conference on Music and Emotion, in Geneva, Switzerland in October (2015) at, and the International Conference for Music Cognition and Perception, In San Francisco in July (2016). Her primary academic research interests include auditory imagery, aural skills acquisition, multimodal interactions, musical learning, plasticity and literacy, and musical performance. Her current doctoral studies are supported by a doctoral fellowship awarded through the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.

Stephen Greenfield-CasasStefan Greenfield-Casas

1st Year PhD • StefanGreenfield-Casas2022@u.northwestern.edu 

Though technically born across the pond, Stefan Greenfield-Casas was raised in the Phlegethonian summers of Texas. He previously attended the University of Texas at San Antonio as a McKinney Scholar (BMus with Highest Honors in horn performance, 2015), and The University of Texas at Austin as a South Texas and Kennan Fellow (MM in music theory, 2017). His Master’s Report explores the interconnected historical, cultural, and (ludo)philosophical dialogues in which the music of Final Fantasy X participates. Stefan’s commitment to multi- and interdisciplinary research is primarily driven by ontological queries of how one can “read” music and/in/qua epics, particularly vis-à-vis video games and modernist poetry. Other research interests that inform his scholarship include critical theory (he is affiliated with Northwestern’s Critical Theory Cluster) and film theory (most recently as pertaining to sonic analyses of (post)millennial wuxia films). He has presented original research on these topics and others at varying conferences, including meetings of the Texas Society for Music Theory, Music and the Moving Image, and the North American Conference on Video Game Music.

Fred HoskenFred Hosken

2nd Year PhD • fredhosken@u.northwestern.edu 

Fred Hosken is from London, England. He holds a BMus from King’s College London, where he most enjoyed studying the aesthetics of music and the analysis of performances on record, and where he was awarded the Purcell Prize for the highest degree result. From here, Fred went straight on to an MSt at Oxford University where he studied the perception and phenomenology of groove with Professor Eric Clarke (a revised form of this research was recently submitted to Psychology of Music). His research addresses human interaction with music, particularly the subjective and multifarious ‘feel’ of groove music, and the possible music-theoretical reasons for these experiences. A focus of this is the perception and enjoyment of rhythm, looking to develop theories of groove beyond micromusical phenomena and with an emphasis on ecological validity. In the summer of 2017, Fred presented experimental research on embodied responses to the drop in dubstep at the European Society for the Cognitive Sciences of Music conference. Prior to moving 3,935 miles from home, Fred spent a few years teaching music in English schools and performing saxophone with swing and soul groups in venues as diverse as historic London halls, the Montreux Jazz Festival, and an Italian castle!

Stephen HudsonStephen Hudson

PhD Candidate • stephenhudson2018@u.northwestern.edu 

Stephen Hudson was born and raised in California, where he graduated with a double major in mathematics and cello performance from the University of California, Davis. At Northwestern, in addition to his studies in the Bienen School of Music, he completed a course cognate in Performance Studies, and is now a Graduate Writing Fellow, tutoring graduate students from across the sciences and humanities, exploring writing collaboratively through Interdisciplinary Writing Groups, and giving workshops at the Writing Place. Stephen's dissertation project seeks to understand how we use ways of moving the body to understand and create rhythmic structure, from headbanging in metal music to dance forms in baroque music. From a wider perspective, Stephen is interested in the role of different kinds of musical knowledge in our use of music to perform and assert personal and cultural identity. He has presented research about how identity is created in metal culture through dance practices, genre judgements, and musical style at numerous national and international conferences, most recently at the 2017 conference of the Society for Music Theory. In addition to his scholarly work, including a recent publication in Metal Music Studies, Stephen is committed to engaging as a fan and performer as part of his research. Stephen continues to play baroque and modern cello as a perennial performer in Northwestern's Baroque Music Ensemble and the annual student-organized NU Chamber Opera Initiative, and occasionally performs in other shows, masterclasses, festivals, and recitals. He also participates in the metal community by making transcriptions, attending concerts, and writing for the International Society of Metal Music Studies blog in addition to maintaining his own blog, http://metalintheory.com

Aubrey LeamanAubrey Leaman

2nd Year PhD • aubreyleaman2021@u.northwestern.edu 

Aubrey Leaman holds a Bachelor of Music degree in piano performance with honors distinction from the University of South Carolina. Her research has focused on how music evokes imagery and tells stories, with the goal of making classical music more accessible and enjoyable for listeners who are not classically trained. Such projects have spanned the creation of a narrative mapping strategy for in-time listening to classical music as well as a silent film based on the fairy tale “Little Red Riding Hood,” which she coupled with a Haydn piano sonata and performed live at her senior piano recital. Her current research interests include individual differences in musical meaning (specifically relating to personality and empathy), the role different implicit analogies and associations may have in affecting musical preferences and enjoyment, and creative multimedia programming.

Olga Sanchez-Kisielewska

Olga Sanchez-Kisielewska

PhD Candidate • osanchez@u.northwestern.edu

Olga comes from Madrid and is working with Vasili Byros and Robert Gjerdingen on a dissertation entitled "The Hymn as a Musical Topic in the Age of Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven." She holds bachelor's degrees in clarinet performance (Real Conservatorio Superior de Música de Madrid) and economic science (Universidad Complutense), and master's degrees in musicology (Universidad de la Rioja) and music theory (Northwestern University). Her research gravitates around meaning and expression in music, embracing a variety of perspectives such as topic theory, schema theory, cognitive metaphor, corpus analysis, embodiment, and intertextuality. Her papers have received awards at the meetings of the Music Theory Society of the Mid-Atlantic, the Music Theory Society of New York State, and the Society for Eighteenth-Century Music. She has contributed with a chapter to the forthcoming volumes The Heroic in Music and Singing in Signs: New Semiotic Explorations of Opera. In the fall of 2017, Olga joined the faculty at the University of Chicago as a lecturer in Music Theory.

Melissa MurphyMelissa Murphy

PhD Candidate • MelissaMurphy2014@u.northwestern.edu 

Melissa Murphy’s research focuses primarily on issues of schemata for improvisation, piano music of the 19th century, and Franz Liszt’s oeuvre. Before her studies at Northwestern University, she earned a bachelor of arts in music and bachelor of arts in psychology from the University of California at Berkeley, from which she graduated in 2007. Melissa Murphy first developed her deep interest in the piano compositions of Liszt while studying piano performance as a teenager under Dr. Rachel Eubanks of the Eubanks Conservatory of Music & Arts in Los Angeles, California. She continued her piano performance studies with Dr. Betty Woo of the University of California, Berkeley, and now continues to study piano and improvise in her spare time.

Miriam PiilonenMiriam Piilonen

PhD Candidate • miriampiilonen2018@u.northwestern.edu

Miriam Piilonen specializes in the history of music theory and its scientific, philosophical, and social contexts. She earned a bachelor’s degree in composition from the New England Conservatory and a master’s degree in human development from Virginia Tech, where she conducted empirical research with the Carilion Research Institute’s fMRI lab. Her dissertation, which is recognized by a 2017-18 Franke Humanities Fellowship, examines the convergence of music studies and evolutionary theory, with emphasis on the rise of music evolutionism in nineteenth-century Britain. She has presented her work at national and international conferences, including the annual meetings of the Society for Music Theory, American Musicological Society, International Association for the Study of Popular Music, and American Comparative Literature Association. She currently serves as a Graduate Teaching Fellow at Northwestern and as a student representative on the executive board of Music Theory Midwest. Beyond her academic life, she is a composer and devoted fan of experimental electronic music and a rock climbing instructor.

James Symons

James Symons

PhD Candidate • jamessymons2012@u.northwestern.edu

James Symons graduated from Berklee College of Music in 2007, with a BM in a major of his own design. In his work as research associate at Harvard’s Mass General Hospital at the Institute for Music and Brain Science prior to coming to Northwestern, James was involved in several studies relating to music and brain injury, music and phonetics, music and nociception, and auditory psychophyics. More recently, James' research explores issues of similarity and patterning in music and the cognition of musical style, using computer algorithms to model these aspects of cognition.

Cella WestrayCella Westray

2nd Year PhD • cellawestray2021@u.northwestern.edu 

Cella Westray is from Minneapolis, Minnesota. She graduated from Grinnell College in 2015 with a double major in Music and Biology, after which she completed a Postbaccalaureate teaching and research fellowship with the Grinnell Music Department. Her research interests include historically-informed composition and music theory. She is also interested in the cognitive processes involved in learning of musical schemata and in compositional creativity.

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