My work emphasizes the fusion of musicology and cultural studies in the interpretation of American, British, and Canadian music since 1945—especially aspects of popular music and film music. My interpretive interests include ideology, genre, class, national identity, technology, appropriation, ethnicity, and gender. I treat my subject matter very seriously, and I find its breadth and diversity to be absolutely central to the “mainstream” of culture.
I am mainly interested in the 98% of music that is neither classical music nor Top 40 pop hits, but especially in relatively under-discussed elements of rock, pop, and related music and in the connections of such things to art music, jazz, world music, and so on. Some scholars probably consider my work to be “ethnomusicology.” However, I am actually most fully grounded in cultural or “new” musicology, and I have principally studied “Western” music.
I have completed a book proposal for Experiencing Peter Gabriel: A Listener’s Companion (for possible publication in 2015) and have also submitted related conference paper proposals (for 2015) on Gabriel’s non-mainstream music.
My theorization of a “post-counterculture”—in my dissertation, published articles, book chapters, and conference papers—has explored and contextualized the music of the progressive/hard rock band Rush. My book, Experiencing Rush: A Listener’s Companion (Rowman and Littlefield, 2014), is available now. Also, I co-edited Rush and Philosophy: Heart and Mind United (Open Court, 2011). The book is an anthology of articles by scholars from a wide range of backgrounds, and it includes my three chapters: on tributes, Canadianness, and technology.
My work on ideology in film and television music— in a book proposal, published articles, conference papers, and invited talks—has included interpretations of classical Hollywood vs. postmodern approaches to music for suspense films about twins and on the breakdown of cultural hierarchy in the “no-brow” approach to music in The Simpsons. My manuscript for “Be Sharp: The Simpsons and Music” is 60% finished, and I will return to the book in 2014 in order to complete it in 2015.
The framework for my career in musicology will continue to revolve around the cultural interpretation of rock, pop, and related types of music and of film and television music. I have longstanding interests in: (1) film scoring by popular musicians and by electronic or minimalist composers (including Peter Gabriel, Wendy Carlos, and Philip Glass), (2) art/progressive rock music by women (such as Kate Bush, Jane Siberry, and Tori Amos), and (3) issues of appropriation and cover songs (such as in and of songs by Led Zeppelin, Joni Mitchell, and Nirvana). From 2014-16, I will mainly work on books, journal articles, conference papers, and invited talks on Peter Gabriel, music in The Simpsons, and the three areas just mentioned. This research will also engage with aspects of music technology, world music, ethnicity, and gender.
In addition, I am interested in further developing a “semi-public musicology,” one that is informative for scholars, but also accessible for musicians and certain others. (For example, I created a Collaborative Community Website for Music History & Culture, called OurMus.Net.)