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School of Music


Dr. Bain with theory students

Music Theory

The foundation of our theory program is a rigorous two-year undergraduate sequence that instructs all music majors and minors in written theory and aural skills.

Students also have the opportunity to explore interests in related fields such as musicology, composition and computer music and to work closely with faculty mentors on undergraduate research projects. We also provide students with a wide variety of innovative courses designed to serve the needs of our undergraduate and graduate degrees in composition, conducting, education, history and performance.

The area regularly offers graduate-level courses in form and analysis, post-tonal theory, 16th-century counterpoint, 18th-century counterpoint, contemporary styles, symphonic analysis, pedagogy of music theory, Schenkerian analysis and doctoral-level courses in areas of faculty research such as Schoenberg as theorist, 20th-century tonality, music and mathematics and the music of Igor Stravinsky.

Students profit from frequent visits by guests theorists, musicologists and composers. Recent guests have included Guy Capuzzo, Tim Carter, Daniel Harrison, Dave Headlam, Stephen Laitz, Patrick McCreless, Severine Neff and Deborah Rifkin.

Students interested in pursuing a music theory degree should contact J. Daniel Jenkins. All other inquiries should be directed to the area coordinator of music theory Reginald Bain.

See theory area links for students and instructors.

Music Theory Faculty

Reginald Bain

Reginald Bain

Reginald Bain has composed a wide variety of instrumental and vocal music that has been performed by leading artists across the U.S. and Europe. He has written extensively for the theatre and is an accomplished electro-acoustic composer whose works employ unique tuning systems, algorithmic approaches, and musical sonification techniques.

Jerry Curry

Jerry Curry

Jerry Curry, distinguished professor emeritus, performed throughout South Carolina in solo recitals and as a continuo player in many chamber groups, including the South Carolina Philharmonic Orchestra. He is the author of freshman theory text, "Introduction to the Study of Counterpoint."

Samuel Douglas

Samuel Douglas

Distinguished professor emeritus, Samuel Douglas is the composer of works for various musical media including orchestra, band, chorus and chamber music. He has written music for movies, theatrical productions and operas. His chamber music has been written for a wide variety of vocal and instrumental forces including electronic sound. He is the recipient of ASCAP Awards in composition for 1990 and 1991.

J. Daniel Jenkins

J. Daniel Jenkins

Daniel Jenkins' research focuses on the music and theoretical thought of Arnold Schoenberg, the music of Elliott Carter, tonality after atonality and music theory pedagogy. Jenkins won the Outstanding Teaching Assistant Prize at the Eastman School of Music in 2003 and the Edward Peck Curtis Award for Excellence in Teaching by a Graduate Student from the University of Rochester in 2005.

Jesse Jones

Jesse Jones

Composer, conductor and mandolinist Jesse Jones' music has been performed across North America, Europe and Asia, and he has received numerous accolades as both a composer and performer. Most recently, he has been honored with the Elliott Carter Rome Prize in Composition from the American Academy in Rome.

John McKay

John McKay

John McKay’s research is centered on the history of music theory, particularly interactions between music theory and larger intellectual currents around the time of the scientific revolution.

John Fitz Rogers

John Fitz Rogers

Composer John Fitz Rogers' music has been performed around the world in leading venues and by ensembles and festivals like Carnegie Hall, Bang on a Can Marathon, Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, among others. He has received many commissions, fellowships and awards, including those from ASCAP, the American Composers Forum and numerous others.