Sixteenth-century music

I’m the founder and director of The 1520s Project, an open-source repository of music from the early sixteenth century. The project aims to address how, when, and where a radically new style of polyphonic music emerged in ca. 1520. The project currently features 400 scores (roughly 380,000 notes). Craig Sapp serves as technical director for the project, and we collaborate closely with Jesse Rodin and the Josquin Research Project. Together, we’ve received a 2023–24 Stanford VPDoR Large Propel Grant for our joint collaboration. In 2024 I won a Harvard Villa I Tatti Fellowship in the Digital Humanities for The 1520s Project.

I’m editing a volume for the Adrian Willaert collected-works edition with the American Institute of Musicology of motets that appeared up to the year 1534 in printed anthologies and manuscripts.

My recently published article in the Journal of the Alamire Foundation, titled “A Motet Wrongly Attributed to Adrian Willaert,” builds on findings from my volume for the Willaert edition to describe a problematic scholarly tendency to assume that an attribution in a given source can apply to works other than the one to which it is attached. Closer examination of Nigra sum makes clear that it is—contrary to what we’ve thought—a three-voice motet by an anonymous composer, with two si placet (additional) voices added later.

Music historiography

I’m developing a database of concert programs of early music from ca. 1915–1960. This research has been generously supported by the Ora Frishberg Saloman Fund of the American Musicological Society and the Fonds Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek in Belgium.

Another project examines the impact and legacy of the music publisher Armen Carapetyan (1908–1992), founder of the American Institute of Musicology. Over the past few years, I’ve compiled a catalogue of over 900 letters to and from Carapetyan. See some analysis of the catalogue.

My dissertation

My dissertation is accessible here through Stanford Libraries and ProQuest Dissertation & Theses Global.

  • I’ve compiled a list of errata. Let me know if you notice other typographical or substantive errors, and I’ll credit you here.

Dissertation abstract

This dissertation takes as its point of departure a problematic historiographical tradition. Even while recognizing that the death of the famous composer Josquin des Prez (1450–1521) marked a stylistic turning point, scholars working in Germany in the early twentieth century characterized the decades that followed, ca. 1520–50, as an aesthetic retrenchment, overstating Josquin’s influence and unwittingly lumping into the same generation sixteenth-century musicians who in fact worked at different times and in different stylistic idioms.

Relying on research in approximately thirty archives, this study reveals how a problematic narrative arose owing to nationalism, religious politics, interpersonal politics, the state of the field at the time, and the inaccessibility of primary source materials. The dissertation revisits composer biographies and the datings of central musical sources. And it uses comparative stylistic analyses of sacred polyphony to pinpoint how, when, and where a new style emerged ca. 1520. Placing writings that launched the modern historiographical tradition in dialogue with musical repertories central to the early history of musicology, the dissertation aims to give appropriate weight to a decisive shift in the history of music while also revealing the enduring influence of early German scholarship on the discipline as a whole.