Music Theory and Cognition Doctoral Students

Anjni Amin, PhD Candidate

Anjni Amin’s research engages a range of topics, including expressive performance, music theory pedagogy, music and emotion, world music pedagogy, and music education. Her dissertation examines the development of expressive interpretation skills through interaction between performer-pedagogue and student in the collegiate performance studio. She has presented her research at the International Conference for Music Cognition and Perception and International Conference on Analytical Approaches to World Music, as well as meetings of the College Music Society and Society for Ethnomusicology. Her work dealing with both music theory and world music pedagogy is published in The Routledge Companion to Music Theory Pedagogy. Prior to her doctoral studies, she earned a bachelor’s degree in music education from The College of Saint Rose and a master’s degree in music theory from Northwestern. Anjni is affiliated with Northwestern’s Searle Center for Advancing Learning & Teaching, serving as a Graduate Teaching Mentor and a Teaching Consultant, and is currently a commissioning editor for the Society for Music Theory’s Performance Analysis Interest Group blog.

Sarah Bowden, 1st Year PhD

Sara Bowden grew up at the base of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Maryville, TN. They earned their undergraduate degree in Music Theory from The University of North Texas (B.M. 2018, Thesis: “Kill or Be Killed: Music as a Moral Catalyst in Toby Fox’s Undertale”) and their master’s degree in Music Theory and Cognition from Northwestern University (M.M. 2019, Thesis: “Narrative Transformation and Music in Mediatized Moral Space in Charlie Brooker’s Bandersnatch”). Their research interests include video game music and morality as well as movement and musical entrainment in a variety of different video gaming platforms. They have presented papers at regional and international conferences including Collin College UISRC and IASPM-ANZ. Outside of their academic pursuits, Bowden is an in-demand marching arts educator, choreographer, and guest clinician. Most recently, they served as a visual technician with the 7th Regiment drum and bugle corps based in New London, CT. As an educator in the Chicago area, Bowden currently works as a field instructor for the seven-time Bands of America Grand National Champion Marian Catholic High School Marching Band. An active performer, they are a trombonist for the Clamor & Lace Noise Brigade, Chicago’s first street band comprised solely of women and non-binary performers.

Lena Console, 2nd Year PhD

A native of Cleveland Heights, Ohio, Lena Console holds two bachelor’s degrees from Indiana University Jacobs School of Music: a Bachelor of Music in Trumpet Performance and a Bachelor of Science in Music Theory & Philosophy. After a lifetime in the Midwest, Lena spent four years working and performing in Seattle, Washington. There she worked as a research coordinator for the University of Washington Institute for Learning & Brain Sciences, researching impacts of group music-making on children’s empathy and pro-social behavior; and as a teaching artist for various organizations, including the Seattle Symphony, where she piloted a community composition residency program with adults who are facing homelessness. As a trumpet performer, her experiences range from historical performance to modern jazz and rock covers. Lena’s current research interests focus on the intersections between aesthetic perception and mindfulness, exploring cognitive components such as attention, memory, and expectation. Also passionate about community engagement, Lena hopes to develop her academic research to create accessible programs for those outside of academia.

Sean Curtice, 4th Year PhD

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 Gates, PhD Candidate

Sarah Gates’s research, which is supported by a doctoral fellowship awarded through the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, interrogates the iterative loop between thinking and listening within the discipline of music theory. This interdisciplinary endeavor combines cognitive science (musical imagery, mental representation, expertise acquisition, ecological perception), music theory (theory and analysis, schemata, pedagogy), and philosophy (phenomenology, introspection) to explicate the acquisition of theoretical concepts and their affordances within listening, thinking, and analysis. She has presented her work at several national and international conferences in both music theory and cognition, including the International Conference on Music and Emotion (2015), the International Conference for Music Cognition and Perception (2016, 2018), and the Society for Music Theory annual meeting (2017, 2018). Sarah Gates is originally from Kitchener-Waterloo, Canada. She holds an Honours Bachelor of Music in saxophone performance and contemporary composition from Wilfrid Laurier University (Gold Medal Recipient), as well as a Master of Music degree in saxophone performance from the University of Toronto. Most recently, she completed a Master of Arts degree 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 verbally identify melodic intervals.

Stefan Greenfield-Casas, 3rd Year PhD

Though technically born across the pond, Stefan Greenfield-Casas was raised in the Phlegethonian summers of Texas. His commitment to multi- and interdisciplinary research positions his work such that it lies at the intersection(s) of theoretical, analytical, historical, sociocultural, and (ap)perceptual musicologies; critical and media theories; ludology and theories of play; and film and sound studies. He has presented papers at national and international conferences, including meetings of the International Association for the Study of Popular Music, the Royal Musical Association’s Music and Philosophy Study Group, Music and the Moving Image, and the North American Conference on Video Game Music. His publications include two short essays published on the American Musicological Society’s blog, as well as a forthcoming chapter in an anthology on Nobuo Uematsu’s contributions to the Final Fantasyseries. Stefan is affiliated with Northwestern’s Interdisciplinary Program in Critical Theory (having recently completed its Interdisciplinary Certificate in Critical Theory), Sound Studies Listening Group (SSLG, read: “SLUG”), and graduate Creative Writing Club. He is also a founding member of Interlude, a trans-institutional network of Chicago-area (video) game and play researchers. Stefan holds additional degrees in music performance and theory from The University of Texas at San Antonio and The University of Texas at Austin, respectively.

Fred Hosken, 4th Year PhD

Fred Hosken’s research investigates musical time, specifically what makes music groove and what gives particular performers their specific “feel.” His focus on the perception of groove is coupled with theories of rhythm, meter, and the beat, as well as computational methods of performance analysis, to advance a theory of beats as “pockets” of time. He has presented at conferences held by the Society for Music Perception and Cognition, the European Society for the Cognitive Sciences of Music, and the Rhythm Perception and Production Workshop. Recently, a digital humanities research grant facilitated his participation in a workshop in Oslo hosted by The Nordic Sound and Music Computing Network. He has published work on the subjective, human experience of groove in Psychology of Music (2018), work that evolved out of his master’s thesis. Prior to his studies at Northwestern, Hosken earned a bachelor’s degree from King’s College London and master’s degree from Oxford University. Currently, he serves as a Graduate Writing Fellow at Northwestern and an editorial assistant for Music Theory Online.

Aubrey Leaman, 4th Year PhD

Aubrey Leaman holds a Bachelor of Music degree in piano performance with honors distinction from the University of South Carolina, and is currently the marketing manager for the Chicago-based chamber group Fifth House Ensemble. Her research explores the interactive roles of empathy and agency upon listening to unfamiliar music (especially contemporary classical music), as well as the broad, prosocial effects that may come out of a listener’s newly-formed connections to a previously-stereotyped genre. In the past, she has studied musical enjoyment through the lens of narrative research, including 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” coupled with a live performance of a Haydn piano sonata at her senior recital.

Morgan Patrick, 2nd Year PhD

Morgan Patrick is a second-year PhD student from Westport, Connecticut. At Brown University he created an undergraduate degree in music cognition, graduating with an interdisciplinary honors thesis in the Departments of Music and Cognitive, Linguistic, & Psychological Sciences. There, his research focused on parallels between Western tonality and the cognition of visual narrative structure. Patrick’s current research investigates how musical form guides attention during real-time listening and during multimedia experiences of narrative. He is also interested in the cognitive mechanisms that underlie theme learning in film and concert music, especially as they relate to the psychology of expectation and immersion.

Cella Westray, 4th Year PhD

Cella Westray is from Minneapolis, Minnesota. She received her bachelor’s degree in music and biology from Grinnell College. After graduating she completed a post-baccalaureate research fellowship with the Grinnell Music department, focusing on recreating the compositional process of Ravel in the context of his partimento and thoroughbass training at the Paris Conservatoire. Currently, her research investigates historically-informed compositional tools and ways of thinking in repertoires of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, drawing on partimento pedagogical practice and on schema theory. In addition to period composition, she is also interested in a broad range of themes connected to the historically-situated perception of music, including the relationship between schemata and tonal perception. Outside of her academic life, she also enjoys performing on the viola da gamba with various ensembles in the Chicago area.