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Joseph Straus
Position: Distinguished Professor, The Graduate Center
Degrees/Diplomas: PhD, Yale
Research Interests: 20th century; Stravinsky; post-tonal theory

Joseph Straus is a music theorist specializing in music of the twentieth century, with research interests that include set theory, voice-leading in post-tonal music, the music of Stravinsky, and the music Ruth Crawford Seeger.  His book, Introduction to Post-Tonal Theory, is a standard college textbook on this topic. His book Remaking the Past received the Wallace Berry award from the Society for Music Theory (SMT); Prof. Straus was the President of the SMT from 1997-99.


Extraordinary Measures: Disability in Music. New York: Oxford University Press, 2011.

Twelve-tone Serialism in American Music. Cambridge University Press, 2009, forthcoming.

Sounding Off: Theorizing Disability in Music, co-edited with Neil Lerner. New York: Routledge, 2006.

Introduction to Post-Tonal Theory. Prentice-Hall, 1990; revised 3rd ed. 2004.

Stravinsky's Late Music. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001.

The Music of Ruth Crawford Seeger. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995. 

Anthology of Music by Women for Study and Analysis. Prentice-Hall, 1993. 

Remaking the Past: Musical Modernism and the Influence of the Tonal Tradition.  Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1990. 

Collected Writings of Milton Babbitt (co-edited with Stephen Dembski, Andrew Mead, and Stephen Peles). Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2005.

Unfoldings: Essays in Schenkerian Theory and Analysis, by Carl Schachter (editor). New York: Oxford University Press, 1998.

Milton Babbitt: Words About Music (co-edited with Stephen Dembski). University of Wisconsin Press, 1987.  


“The String Quartets of Bela Bartok,”  in Intimate Voices: Aspects of Construction and Character in the Twentieth-Century String Quartet, ed. Evan Jones (University of Rochester Press, forthcoming).

A Revisionist History of Twelve-Tone Serialism in American Music, Journal of the Society for American Music 2/3 (2008): 335-96.

“Disability and Late Style in Music,” Journal of Musicology 25/1 (2008): 3-45.

“Motivic Chains in Bartók’s Third String Quartet,” Twentieth-Century Music 5/1 (2008): 1-20.

“Ruth Crawford’s Precompositional Strategies,” in Ruth Crawford Seeger’s Worlds: Innovation and Tradition in Twentieth Century American Music,  eds. Ray Allen and Ellie Hisama (University of Rochester Press, 2007).

"Normalizing the Abnormal: Disability in Music and Music Theory" in Journal of the American Musicological Society 59/1 (2006).

"Voice Leading in Set-Class Space,” Journal of Music Theory  49/1 (2005): 45-108.

"Uniformity, Balance, and Smoothness in Atonal Voice Leading" in Music Theory Spectrum 25/2 (2003), 305-52.

“Stravinsky the Serialist, in The Cambridge Companion to Stravinsky, ed. Jonathan Cross.  Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003).

"Ruth Crawford Seeger’s Contributions to Musical Modernism," in ISAM Newsletter 31/1 (2001), 9-12.

"Stravinsky’s Serial ‘Mistakes," in The Journal of Musicology 17/2 (Spring 1999), 231-71.

The Myth of Serial ‘Tyranny’ in the 1950's and 1960's, in The Musical Quarterly 83/3 (Fall 1999), 301-43.

“Babbitt and Stravinsky under the Serial ‘Regime,’” in Perspectives of New Music 35/2 (1999), 17-32.

"Stravinsky’s ‘Construction of Twelve Verticals’: An Aspect of Harmony in the Late Music," in Music Theory Spectrum 21/1 (1999), 43-73.

"A Strategy of Large-Scale Organization in the Late Music of Stravinsky," in Intégral 11 (1999), 1-36.

"Plenary Session: Introductory Remarks," in Music Theory Online 4.2 (1998).

"A Response to Larson," in Journal of Music Theory 41/1 (1997), 137-40.

"Voice Leading in Atonal Music," in Music Theory in Concept and Practice, ed. James Baker, David Beach, and Jonathan Bernard (Rochester: University of Rochester Press, 1997), 237-74.

"Post-structuralism and Music Theory (A Response to Adam Krims)," in Music Theory Online 1.1 (1995).

"A Teacher's Guide to Atonal Set Theory," in College Music Symposium 31 (1991), 1-26.  Reprinted in Engaging Music:  Essays in Music Analysis, ed. Deborah Stein (Berkeley: University of California Press, forthcoming).

"The 'Anxiety of Influence' in Twentieth-Century Music," in The Journal of Musicology 9/4 (1991),  430-47.

"The Progress of a Motive in Stravinsky's The Rake's Progress," in The Journal of Musicology 9/2 (1991), 165-85.

"Two 'Mistakes' in Stravinsky's Introitus," in Mitteilungen der Paul Sacher Stiftung 4 (1991), 34-36.

"The Problem of Coherence in Stravinsky's Serenade in A," in Theory and Practice 12 (1987), 3-10.

"The Problem of Prolongation in Post-Tonal Music," in Journal of Music Theory 31/1 (1987), 1-22.

"Listening to Babbitt," in Perspectives of New Music 25 (1987), 3-24.

"Stravinsky's Use of Sonata Form," in Stravinsky Retrospectives, eds. Paul Johnson and Ethan Haimo (Lincoln, Nebraska: University of Nebraska Press, 1987), 141-61.

"The Recompositions of Schoenberg, Webern, and Stravinsky," in The Musical Quarterly 72/3 (1986), 301-28.

"Tristan and Berg's Lyric Suite," in In Theory Only 8/3 (1984), 33-41.

"The Motivic Structure of Palestrina's Music," in In Theory Only 7/4 (1983), 3-24.

"A Principle of Voice Leading in the Music of Stravinsky," in Music Theory Spectrum 4 (1982), 106-24.

"Stravinsky's Tonal Axis," in Journal of Music Theory 26 (1982), 261-90.