Society for Music Theory

The most valuable resource for music theorists is the website for the Society for Music Theory (SMT), a national organization whose mission, according to the website, is to "promote music theory as both a scholarly and a pedagogical discipline. Today our Society has a membership of over 1,200 music theorists worldwide, whose interests embrace a varied and growing range of subject matter."

Annual Conferences

The annual conferences of SMT include many sessions of talks as well as special events of various kinds (keynote addresses, panel discussions, etc.). It is a wonderful place to see friends and colleagues from all over the country as well as to meet other theorists from Canada and many European countries.

SMT Standing Committees

SMT also has several committees to assist its members. These groups present special sessions at the annual conference:

  • The Committee on Diversity "promotes the diversity—of race and ethnicity, culture, values, and points of view—within the society." In addition to special sessions focusing on various cultures and issues of diversity, the Committee offers mentorship and travel scholarships to minorities for attendance to SMT meetings and coordinates for other similar groups such the American Musicological Society and the Society for Ethnomusicology.
  • The Committee on the Status of Women (CSW) addresses concerns for women music theorists and for research focused on women composers and women’s different styles of teaching and scholarship.
  • The Professional Development Committee (PDC) works with younger members of SMT, especially some undergraduate and many graduate students. In addition to special sessions about various issues in building a career (such as applying for jobs, presenting papers at conferences, getting tenure, etc.) this invaluable group offers much to help for younger theorists including:
  1. Conference guides to assist students attending their first annual meeting
  2. A student breakfast to enable students to "meet students from other institutions, to begin to develop all-important professional networks, and to learn about conferences and publications that invite student participation"
  3. A CV Review session where "senior members of the society are available to review and critique CVs and cover letters one-on-one with those applying for jobs in the near future"
  4. An SMT Facebook Page for students and first-year faculty that "provides a safe forum for new members of the professional community to discuss issues relevant to graduate study, applying for jobs, or other questions and concerns, without being shared with the entire SMT membership"
  5. A Meeting Proposal Page that offers "advice about preparing an effective SMT meeting proposal and [access to] a broad spectrum of successful proposals from recent years"

Graduate Student Workshop Program (GSWP)

"The GSWP offers educational workshops for graduate students, emphasizing instruction, participation, and discussion. The workshops, each of which is led by a prominent scholar in the field, take place during the SMT Annual Meeting."

Other SMT Resources

The website includes information about many special features of SMT:

Interest Groups

Interest Groups focus on specific topics within music theory and demonstrate the diversity and breadth of the field:

  • Analysis of World Music Group
  • Interest Group on Improvisation
  • Jazz Interest Group (SMT-Jz)
  • Mathematics of Music Analysis Group
  • Music and Disability Interest Group (DISMUS)
  • Music and Philosophy Interest Group
  • Music Cognition Group
  • Music Informatics Group
  • Music Theory Pedagogy Interest Group
  • Performance and Analysis Interest Group
  • Popular Music Interest Group
  • Queer Resource Group

Three of these groups offer bibliographies on their websites: Performance & Analysis, Jazz Music Theory, and Music and Disability.

Regional Theory Societies

Regional Theory Societies have annual meetings within special geographical areas; these are particularly valuable for music theory students who want to learn more about music theory, to hear interesting talks from music theorists and to meet other students and faculty close to home:

  • Music Theory Society of the Mid-Atlantic (MTSMA)
  • Music Theory Midwest (MTMW)
  • Music Theory Society of New York State (MTSNYS)
  • Music Theory South East (MTSE)
  • New England Conference of Music Theorists (NECMT)
  • Oklahoma Music Theory Round Table (OMTRT)
  • Rocky Mountain Society for Music Theory (RMSMT)
  • South-Central Society for Music Theory (SCSMT)
  • Texas Society for Music Theory (TSMT)
  • West Coast Conference of Music Theory and Analysis (WCCMTA)

The Regional society close to NEC is the New England Conference of Music Theory (NECMT); our spring conferences take place in Massachusetts (NEC, Brandeis, Boston University, Harvard, Tufts, UMass Amherst) or Connecticut (Hartt College of Music, Yale University, UConn, Storrs, Connecticut College)

NEC in NECMT: Three members of NEC have been President of NECMT: Roger Graybill, Deborah Stein, and Gerald Zaritzky.

Graduate Student Organizations

Graduate student organizations have their own conferences; several house important theory journals:

  • University at Buffalo SUNY Music Graduate Student Association (MuGSA); Journal: Mosaic
  • University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music (CCM) Music Theory & Musicology Society; Journal: Music Research Forum
  • The City University of New York Graduate Students in Music (CUNY - GSIM)
  • Columbia University Graduate Student Conference in Music Scholarship
  • Florida State University Music Theory Society
  • Graduate Association of Music and Musicians at the University of Texas at Austin
  • Indiana University Graduate Theory Association; Journal: Indiana Theory Review
  • McGill Music Graduate Student Symposium
  • Midwest Graduate Music Consortium (MGMC)
  • Pacific NorthWest Graduate Music Students
  • Western Ontario Graduate Student Symposium

Related Societies

A list of related theory societies around the world: