My academic 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 & television 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.
My theorization of a “post-counterculture”—in my dissertation, published articles, book chapters, and conference papers—has explored and contextualized the music of the Canadian progressive/hard rock band Rush, such as in my book: Experiencing Rush: A Listener’s Companion (Rowman and Littlefield, 2014). Also, I co-edited Rush and Philosophy: Heart and Mind United (Open Court, 2011), which is an anthology of articles by scholars from a wide range of backgrounds, including my three chapters: on Rush tributes, the band’s Canadianness, and its use of technology. My other book is: Experiencing Peter Gabriel: A Listener’s Companion (Rowman and Littlefield, 2016), about that British singer-songwriter, and I also presented a related conference paper in 2015 on Gabriel’s early music (1968-1975) with the British band Genesis.
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 book chapter, “Be Sharp: The Simpsons and Music,” appears in The Simpsons’ Beloved Springfield: Essays on the TV Series and Town That Are Part of Us All (McFarland, 2019), and a related academic journal article appears in a 2020 issue of MUSICultures.
The framework for my work 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), (2) art/progressive rock music by women (such as Kate Bush, Jane Siberry, and Tori Amos), and (3) issues of appropriation and cover songs. From 2020-2025, I will mainly work on books, journal articles, conference papers, and invited talks on music in The Simpsons, Rush (whose drummer-lyricist Neil Peart passed away from cancer on 7 January 2020), Peter Gabriel, and so on. 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.