Professor of Music Theory
- Ph.D., University at Buffalo; M.M., University of Connecticut; B.M., University of Massachusetts at Lowell.
- Music theory studies with John Clough, Martha Hyde, Charles Smith, Avo Somer.
- Member, Society for Music Theory, Music Theory Society of New York State, College Music Society, Society for Minimalist Music.
Timothy A. Johnson is professor of music theory at Ithaca College. He teaches in all areas of the theory and sightsinging curriculum, ranging from introductory courses for first-year students to upper-level and graduate courses. Recently he served as chair of graduate studies in music.
Nixon in China
Johnson's most recent book, John Adams's Nixon in China: Musical Analysis, Historical and Political Perspectives (Ashgate Publishing, 2011), ties together analytical observations about the opera with cultural, political, and historical aspects of the scenes, characters, and issues raised in the opera. Johnson received a Society for Music Theory publication subvention grant in 2010 for this book. In 2006-2007 he was on sabbatical, during which he began research on this project. This book was reviewed by Kyle Fyr in Music Theory Online 18/2 (July 2012); Arnold Whittall in Music & Letters: 93/4 (November 2012); and by Robert Lintott in Notes: 69/3 (March 2013), the journal of the Music Library Association.
Ives and Baseball
Baseball and the Music of Charles Ives: A Proving Ground (Scarecrow Press, 2004) discusses the importance of baseball in Ives's life, including his participation during his youth as a pitcher and shortstop, his baseball-related compositions that feature musical depictions of ballplayers and baseball situations, and his use of baseball analogies in his writings. Baseball was a place where Ives felt he could prove himself as a man, and baseball provided a framework within which he could build new musical ideas. Johnson was awarded the 2004 Sporting News-SABR Baseball Research Award for this book.
His textbook, Foundations of Diatonic Theory: A Mathematically Based Approach to Music Fundamentals (Scarecrow Press, 2008; originally Key College Publishing, 2003), is the first introductory, undergraduate-level book published on diatonic set theory. This textbook introduces a strong link between introductory pedagogy and recent scholarship in music theory by relating concepts in diatonic set theory directly to the study of music fundamentals through pedagogical exercises and instructions. This book is part of the Mathematics Across the Curriculum project at Dartmouth College, funded by the National Science Foundation. This innovative project was developed to achieve the goal of allowing students to concentrate on their disciplines while using and improving their mathematical skills. This book was reviewed by Matthew Santa in GAMUT.
He also has authored a chapter, "Some Pedagogical Implications of Diatonic and Neo-Riemannian Theory," in Music Theory and Mathematics: Chords, Collections, and Transformations. Edited by Jack Douthett, Martha M. Hyde, and Charles J. Smith (University of Rochester Press, 2008).
Other Research Areas
In previous scholarship Johnson has focused on music and baseball, the songs of Charles Ives, minimalist music, and the music of John Adams (including the first dissertation written about this enormously successful contemporary composer, as well as several related articles). In addition, Johnson has published articles or presented papers in the areas of the music and baseball, music theory pedagogy, music technology, twelve-tone theory, and the history of music theory.
Johnson's next presentation will be at the Twenty-Fifth Cooperstown Symposium on Baseball and American Culture, May 29-31, 2013. His presentation, "'The Band is Playing Somewhere': Unpacking the Music of 'Casey at the Bat,'" will discuss Randol Alan Bass's musical version of the famous poem for band. His talk will be illustrated by video clips of Johnson's performance of the piece as narrator with the Ithaca College Symphonic Band, directed by Elizabeth B. Peterson.
Johnson recently has given presentations at the Third Conference on Music and Minimalism in Leuven,, Belgium; the Second Conference on Music and Minimalism in Kansas City; the First International Conference on Music and Minimalism in Bangor, Wales; the Cooperstown Symposium on Baseball and American Culture at the Baseball Hall of Fame; the Music Theory Society of New York State; the Joint Mathematics Meetings of the American Mathematical Society and Mathematics Association of America; and The Society for Music Theory.
One-Year Visiting Endowed Chair
In 2005-2006 he was on leave from Ithaca College to teach at the University at Buffalo as the Visiting Frederick and Alice Slee Professor of Music Theory, the oldest endowed chair in the field.
- John Adams's Nixon in China: Musical Analysis, Historical and Cultural Perspectives (Farnam, Surrey, UK: Ashgate Publishing, 2011).
- Baseball and the Music of Charles Ives: A Proving Ground (Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press, 2004).
- Foundations of Diatonic Theory: A Mathematically Based Approach to Music Fundamentals (Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press, 2008; originally published by Emeryville, CA: Key College Publishing, 2003).
Articles and Book Chapters
- "I Never Get Back: How 'Take Me Out to the Ball Game' Succeeds in Celebrating Failure," The National Pastime: A Review of Baseball History 28 (2008): 138-143.
- "Some Pedagogical Implications of Diatonic and Neo-Riemannian Theory," in Music Theory and Mathematics: Chords, Collections, and Transformations. Edited by Jack Douthett, Martha M. Hyde, and Charles J. Smith (Rochester, N.Y.: University of Rochester Press, 2008), 161-173.
- "Chromatic Quotations of Diatonic Tunes in Songs of Charles Ives," Music Theory Spectrum 18.2 (Fall 1996): 236-261.
- "The Computer Presentation of Musical Research: A Case Study," Music Theory Online 1.3 (May 1995).
- Typical Chord Successions in the Music of John Adams: An Interactive Computer Presentation (May 1995) [a computer program originally published by Music Theory Online via ftp; no longer available].
- "Minimalism: Aesthetic, Style, or Technique?" Musical Quarterly 78, no. 4 (Winter 1994): 742-773.
- "Harmonic Vocabulary in the Music of John Adams: A Hierarchical Approach," Journal of Music Theory 37 (Spring 1993): 117-156.
- "Solmization in English Treatises Around the Turn of the Seventeenth Century: A Break From Modal Theory," Theoria 5 (1990-91): 42-60.