I am a music theorist and historian, with broad research and teaching interests in music analysis, music in contemporary media, pop music, and the digital humanities. I received my Ph.D. from Harvard, and prior to beginning my current position at Gettysburg College, I taught courses on music theory and video game music at Tufts University. While in graduate school, I was a graduate fellow at Harvard’s Derek Bok Center for Teaching and Learning, and an editorial assistant for the Journal of the American Musicological Society (2013-2016).

My most recent essays and conference presentations have addressed chromatic harmony (MTSMA 2018, 2019; SMT 2019, 2021; AMS 2021); the pedagogy of Neo-Riemannian Theory (Journal of Music Theory Pedagogy 2021), solo covers of pop songs on YouTube (Musicology Now, 2018; SMT 2019); indeterminacy in video game music (Journal of Sound & Music in Games, 2020); Hans Keller’s method of Functional Analysis (Music Analysis, 2020; Oxford Handbook of Public Music Theory, forthcoming); David Lewin’s methodological writings (Music Theory and Analysis, 2018); and the analysis of popular music on social media and news websites (Analitica: Rivista online di studi musicali, 2018). I also have essays forthcoming in Engaging Students and The Oxford Handbook of Music and Sound in Video Games.

My current research projects include drafting my first book, entitled Recomposition in Music Theory; compiling a collection of essays on Video Games and Popular Music; and ongoing research and writing on chromatic harmony in the music of American composer Amy Beach.


Ph.D., Harvard University

M.A., University of Wisconsin-Madison

B.Mus., Miami University

Blog Posts

    Upcoming Talks and Conferences

    “Amy Beach Among the Ornithologists.” American Musicological Society, November 2021.

    “Octatonic-Triadic Cycles and Amy Beach’s ‘Autumn Song.'” Society for Music Theory, November 2021.

    “Digital Ecologies of 21st-Century Musical Instruments.” Royal Holloway, University of London. May 6, 2021.

    “‘It is Sheer Nonsense to Call This Atonal’: Hugo Leichtentritt’s Recompositions of Schoenberg’s Op. 11 and Op. 19 Klavierstücke.” Music Theory Midwest (online). June 30, 2020.

    “Collaboration, Communication, Cancellation: Sound and Music Development in Atari’s Film-to-Arcade Adaptations.” North American Conference on Video Game Music, Ithaca College, April 4-5, 2020.

    “The Techné of YouTube Performance: Musical Structure, Extended Techniques, and Custom Instruments in Solo Pop Covers” Society for Music Theory Annual Meeting, Columbus, Ohio, November 2019.

    “Neo-Riemannian Theory in Undergraduate Courses,” Society for Music Theory Annual Meeting, Columbus, Ohio, November 2019.

    “Teaching with Video,” College Music Society Summit 2.0: Designing the 21st-Century Music School. University of South Carolina, January 18, 2019.

    William O'Hara

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