I teach music theory in the Harvard Music Department and research process and ambient music of the latter twentieth and early twenty-first centuries (minimalism, spectralism, electroacoustic, ambient). My goals are analytical: drawing on recent theories of event cognition, embodied cognition, and ecological perception, I investigate the in-time musical experience of form, time, meter, timbre, and meaning. I contextualize broad questions about the nature of musical experience in narrow instances of processual, spatial, and interactive musical experiences.

I have recently published or presented research on the role of metric cognition in Grisey (MTO, 2018; SMT, 2019); aspects of embodiment and formal perception (Intégral, forthcoming); and the development of spectral community and discourse through memorials to Grisey (Spectralisms conference, 2019).

I am currently developing a monograph investigating process and ambient thinking since 1950 across genres and styles, from Stockhausen and Messiaen to Hans Abrahamsen and Laurie Spiegel. The book’s working title (quoting a Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith track) is “Existence in the Unfurling”: Theorizing Process and Ambient Music, 1950-2020.


PhD Music Theory, Washington University in St. Louis, 2019. Dissertation: “Between Concept and Perception: Cognition, Experience, and Form in Spectral Music.” Advised by Paul Steinbeck.

M.M. Music Theory, Northern Arizona University, 2014.

B.M. Music Performance, University of Minnesota–Twin Cities, 2011.


Forthcoming: “Embodied Form in Grisey’s Prologue: Variation, Opposition, Tension.”  Intégral 34. Accepted 2/25/2020.

2018    “Spectral Meter: Dramatizing Entrainment and Communicating Form in Grisey’s Vortex Temporum I (1994–96).” Music Theory Online 24 (2). Available online

Co-Authored articles:
Benjamin Duane and Joseph Jakubowski, “Harmonic Clusters and Tonal Cadences: Bayesian Learning Without Chord Identification.” Journal of New Music Research 47 (2): 143–165.

Blog Posts


    Event Cognition and Process Music: Listening, Coping, Analyzing

    Nearly-Metric Spaces in Post-Tonal Music

    Shaping Discourse: Memorials, Spectral Music, and Grisey’s Death

    “Existence in the Unfurling”: Theorizing Process and Ambient Music, 1950-2020. Monograph (working title).

    Upcoming Talks and Conferences

    “Music and Event Cognition: Three Aspects of Listening to Form in Process Music.” New England Conference of Music Theorists, New Haven, CT. Postponed to Fall 2020 due to COVID-19.

    “Music and Event Cognition: Coping with Process Music’s Unfolding Forms.” Music Theory Midwest, Madison, WI. Postponed due to COVID-19.

    “Meter as Mechanic: Audio-Visual Coordination and Beat Difficulty in Crypt of the Necrodancer.” North American Conference on Video Game Music, April 4, 2020. (Held virtually)


    Society for Music Theory

    Society for Music Perception and Cognition

    College Music Society

    Music Theory Midwest

    New England Conference for Music Theorists

    Joseph Jakubowski

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