Submit a proposal to “Theorizing African American Music” at Case Western Reserve University, June 16–18, 2022. Proposals are due December 10, 2021.

Apply to work with me at the Atlantic Center for the Arts as a fully funded Associate Artist, May 15 to June 4, 2022. Applications are due December 5, 2021.

Photo by Pascal Perich

Hello, and welcome to my website. Here you’ll be able to learn about me and my career. You’ll also find links to some of my publications and performances. Should you wish to contact me, don’t hesitate to do so via the “contact” tab of this website. Feel free to follow me on Twitter if you wish, at @philewell.

I am a professor of music theory at Hunter College of the City University of New York, where I am the Director of Graduate Studies in the Music Department. I am also on the faculty of the CUNY Graduate Center. In August 2020 I received the “Graduate Center Award for Excellence in Mentoring,” based on the many doctoral dissertations I’ve advised. I received the 2019–2020 “Presidential Award for Excellence in Creative Work” at Hunter, and I was the “Susan McClary and Robert Walser Fellow” of the American Council of Learned Societies for 2020–2021. I was also a “Virtual Scholar in Residence” at the University of Pacific’s Conservatory of Music for 2020–2021. My monograph, On Music Theory, and Making Music More Welcoming for Everyone, will appear with the University of Michigan Press’s Music and Social Justice series in 2022. Finally, I am under contract at W. W. Norton to coauthor a new music theory textbook, The Engaged Musician: Theory and Analysis for the Twenty-First Century, which will be a modernized and inclusive textbook based on recent developments in music theory pedagogy, with a projected publication date in 2023.

My research specialties include race studies in music theory, Russian music theory, Russian opera, modal theory and history, twentieth-century music theory, and hiphop and popular music. As a public music theorist my work has appeared in Adam Neely’s YouTube channel, the BBC, Die Zeit, the New York Times, and the New Yorker, among other outlets (see the “media” tab above for more feature stories concerning my work). You can also read about my race scholarship in “Music Theory and the White Racial Frame,” and my six-part blog, “Confronting Racism and Sexism in American Music Theory.” As a Russianist I focus on Russian concepts of harmony and mode, the music of Rimsky-Korsakov, and the history of Russian music theory (see the “research” tab above for links to some of this work).

My BA in Music is from Stanford University, where I studied cello with Stephen Harrison and music theory with Leonard Ratner. My MM in cello performance is from Queens College (CUNY), where I studied cello with Barbara Mallow and music theory with Carl Schachter. I also have a certificate in cello performance from the St. Petersburg (Russia) Conservatory and a PhD in music theory from Yale University, where I wrote a dissertation on Alexander Scriabin under Allen Forte. Finally, I studied music theory, as a visiting student, with Yuri Kholopov at the Moscow Conservatory.

I frequently give lectures, workshops, interviews, and keynotes, especially related to topics in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) and antiracism. Please don’t hesitate to contact me to discuss a potential collaboration. And thanks for visiting my website!