At Queen's Music we believe that music theory provides a key to unlock some of the mysteries of music.
One of the purposes of music theory is to illuminate the structure and language of the music we love to perform and listen to, so that we may communicate with like-minded people who share the same passion, as well as intensify our understanding and appreciation of music.
Students at the School receive a solid foundation in music theory and analysis. The requirement for all Bachelor of Music students to take three years of core music theory reflects our understanding of theory as fundamental to the study of music from every perspective - compositional, educational, musicological, and performance. Through this series of three courses, students gain a thorough understanding of harmony, form and analysis. These courses prepare students for further studies in music theory, as well as providing an invaluable theoretical understanding to students who wish to specialize in other areas of music.
Upper-year theory option courses explore the most recent developments in theory and analysis. Analytical and writing skills are developed in such courses as modal and tonal counterpoint, Schenkerian theory and analysis, and the analysis of twentieth-century music. Other offerings in this area include seminar courses devoted to theoretical issues and analytical studies focused on the music of specific composers.
Our best students in theory and analysis frequently choose to develop their skills further by engaging in an in-depth research study into a specific topic, supervised by a member of the faculty. The excellent preparation in music theory gained by students at Queen's Music has led several graduates to successfully complete post-graduate programs in theory at other universities in North America.
Faculty members who teach theory and analysis at the Dan School of Drama and Music are actively engaged in research, much of it devoted to music of the twentieth-century. Our faculty regularly make presentations at conferences and publish in the leading music theory journals.
Music Theory Faculty
Dr. Robin Attas is a music theorist with research interests in popular music studies, decolonization, and the scholarship of teaching and learning. Following academic training at Queen’s University (B.Mus.) and the University of British Columbia (M.A. and Ph.D., Music Theory), she held faculty positions at Elon University (North Carolina), and Mount Allison University (New Brunswick). Her teaching experiences have been primarily within the undergraduate music theory and aural skills core curriculum, where she is passionate about making her classroom a place where students are engaged and active learners, and where all students find points of connection between the content and skills of music theory and their own educational interests and goals. Her research interests lead naturally to an interest in expanding the standard music theory curriculum beyond its traditional repertoire boundaries to include the analysis of genres from around the world, and the critical discussion of music by composers of diverse genders, races, and ethnicities. Dr. Attas has published pedagogical research on topics including the inclusion of prose writing in the music theory classroom, teaching methodologies for music analysis, and strategies for decolonizing music theory courses and curricula.
John Burge holds degrees in Composition and Theory from the University of Toronto (BMUS, MMUS) and the University of British Columbia (DMA). A Juno-wining composer, his career and research have focused primarily in area of composition but he still finds time to perform as a pianist, primarily playing solo recitals or lecture/demonstrations of his own solo piano music. Having taught virtually all of the Theory and Composition courses offered at Queen’s in the past, he has recently been devoting much of his teaching time to the Dan School’s first-year Theory and Analysis course, which is rigorous in the amount of knowledge that students gain in the study of diatonic harmony, an introduction to Species Counterpoint and the completion of two composition projects. John Burge has also taught all of upper-year counterpoint courses, Schenkerian Analysis and a number of topics courses in areas of particular interest to him such as, The Solo Piano Music of Chopin and The Symphonies of Mahler. Although his private teaching time is usually devoted to working individually with student composers, he has often advised students on independent study projects in the area of music analysis.
Dr. Stephanie Lind, multiple winner of the School of Music Teaching Award, received her Ph.D. in music theory from the University of British Columbia under the supervision of Dr. John Roeder. She has taught a variety of courses in music theory, analysis, and musicology including chromatic harmony and form, post-tonal music, advanced theory and analysis, Canadian music, music aesthetics, and the music of video games at Queen's. She is currently also the President of the Canadian University Music Society. Dr. Lind’s research interests include video game music, transformational theory, and contemporary Canadian art music. Her research contributions include articles in Intersections, Music Theory Online, Perspectives of New Music, presentations at numerous conferences, and a book chapter on diegetic music in the video game The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time for the book Music Video Games: Performance, Politics, and Play, published in 2016 by Bloomsbury Press. She is a past winner of the Canadian University Music Society's George Proctor Prize for her presentation (and subsequent article) on R. Murray Schafer’s Seventh String Quartet.