Congratulations to PhD Candidate (Music Theory) Kristen Wallentinsen, winner of the first SMT-40 Dissertation Fellowship competition. Awarded by the Society for Music Theory (SMT), the SMT-40 Dissertation Fellowship is a $3500 award, made possible by the SMT-40 campaign, that is intended to recognize and foster excellent research in music theory by helping highly qualified PhD students to complete their dissertations.
Supervised by Catherine Nolan, Kristen's dissertation is entitled "Fuzzy Family Ties: Familial Similarity between Melodic Contours of Different Cardinalities.” Building upon recent developments in contour theory, it develops a "flexible attitude toward cardinality that opens the theory to more nuanced judgments of similarity and familial membership... This approach provides a multifaceted representation of contour similarity and difference, and can illuminate many possible relationships between contours within a family, [while also connecting] with debates about melodic structure in music cognition, musicology, and ethnomusicology” (from the prospectus). It "includes analytical chapters exploring the study of melodic contour in three distinct musical repertories: plainchant, selected music of Brahms, and selected music from the repertoire of American minimalism...and explores fundamental theoretical questions about contour that are independent of style or geography” (from her advisor’s letter of support).
Kristen's research focuses on mathematical representations of melodic contour in music, and she is currently working to apply her contour methodology toward the study of familial relationships within a wide variety of repertoires.
The SMT promotes the development of and engagement with music theory as a scholarly and pedagogical discipline. They construe this discipline broadly as embracing all approaches, from conceptual to practical, and all perspectives, including those of the scholar, listener, composer, performer, teacher, and student. The Society is committed to fostering diversity, inclusivity, and gender equity in the field.
About the SMT-40 Dissertation Fellowship Competition - SMT website
Graduate Studies in Music at Western - Don Wright Faculty of Music
Beyond sound: Looking at the shape of music to understand composition - article via Western News (March 16, 2017)