Joseph Straus

Joseph Straus
  • Distinguished Professor, Music

Research Interests

  • Modernist Music, Post-Tonal Theory, Music and Disability


  • Ph.D. in Music Theory, Yale University

Joseph Straus is a music theorist specializing in music since 1900. He has written technical music-theoretical articles, analytical studies of music by a variety of modernist composers, and, most recently, a series of article and books that engage disability as a cultural practice. He written textbooks that have become standard references. Many of his books and articles have received publication awards from the Society for Music Theory (SMT), of which he was President from 1997–99.

Courses Taught

Current Trends in Music Theory Analyzing Atonal Music Music and Disability


  • Analysis of Sofia Gubaidulina, Reflections on BACH, in Analyzing Russian Music, ed. Inessa Bazayev and Chris Segall (Routledge, forthcoming).
  • Musical Modernism and its Disability Aesthetics. In Art/Sex/Identity: The Work of Tobin Siebers and Disability Studies, ed. Crystal Lie, Jina Kim, and Joshua Kupetz. University of Michigan Press (forthcoming).
  • Sum Class. Journal of Music Theory 62/2 (2018): 279–338.
  • Ten Tips for Teaching Tonal Theory. In the Norton Guide to Teaching Music Theory, ed. Lumsden (Norton, 2018).
  • Modernist Music and the Representation of Disability. Journal of the American Musicological Society 69/2 (2016): 530–536.
  • Autism and Postwar Serialism as Neurodiverse Forms of Cultural Modernism, in The Oxford Handbook of Music and Disability Studies (Oxford UP 2016).
  • Representing the Extraordinary Body: Musical Modernism’s Aesthetics of Disability, in the Oxford Handbook of Music and Disability Studies (Oxford UP 2016).
  • “Twelve-Tone in My Own Way”: An Analytical Study of Ursula Mamlok’s Panta Rhei (1981), Third Movement, with Some Reflections on Twelve-Tone Music in America. Essays on Music by Women, ed. Laurel Parsons and Brenda Ravenscroft (Oxford University Press, 2016).
  • Music Therapy and Autism: A Perspective from Disability Studies. Voices: A World Forum for Music Therapy 14/3 (2014): Special Issue on Music Therapy and Disability Studies Total Voice Leading. Music Theory Online 20/2 (2014).
  • Harmony and Voice Leading in the Music of Stravinsky. Music Theory Spectrum 36/1 (2014): 1-33. **Received the Outstanding Publication Award of the Society for Music Theory (2015)**
  • Idiots Savants, Retarded Savants, Talented Aments, Mono-savants, Autistic Savants, Just Plain Savants, People with Savant Syndrome, and Autistic People who are Good at Things: A View from Disability Studies. Disability Studies Quarterly 34/3 (2014).
  • Music and Disability. The Health and Humanities Reader, ed. Jones et al. (Rutgers University Press, 2014): 77-86.
  • Three Stravinsky Analyses. Music Theory Online 18/4 (2012). Babbitt the Analyst. Music Theory Spectrum 34/1 (2012): 26-33.
  • Contextual-Inversion Spaces. Journal of Music Theory 55/1 (2011): 43-88.