Assistant Professor of Music Theory
206 Frohnmayer Music Building
Ph.D. 2014, Music Theory, CUNY Graduate Center
M.A. 2009, Music Theory, University of Washington
Sc.B. 2007, Mathematics and Music, Brown University
Drew Nobile is assistant professor of music theory at the University of Oregon. Before coming to Eugene, Nobile served on the music faculty at the University of Chicago (2013–15) and Brooklyn College (2010–13). His research centers on issues of form and harmony in classic rock music, often employing Schenkerian analytical techniques. Other research interests include mathematical applications to post-tonal music and 19th-century string music.
Nobile received his Ph.D. from the CUNY Graduate Center in 2014 and holds degrees from the University of Washington (2009) and Brown University (2007). His dissertation on form, harmony, and counterpoint in rock music received the 2014–15 Barry S. Brook Dissertation Award.
Nobile's articles on counterpoint, harmonic function, the Beatles, and Schoenberg appear or are forthcoming in Music Theory Spectrum, the Journal of Music Theory, and Music Theory Online, and his research has been awarded the Patricia Carpenter Emerging Scholar Award from the Music Theory Society of New York State and the Dorothy Payne Award from the Music Theory Society of the Mid-Atlantic.
Nobile’s current book project, titled Form as Harmony in Rock Music, makes the case that across genres, decades, and continents, pop and rock songwriters tend to return again and again to a small number of conventional song types. These normative song types are classified based on two aspects: 1) the arrangement of sections such as verses and choruses (form), and 2) the large-scale trajectory of the chord progression (harmony). This project argues that the interaction between form and harmony is a fundamental feature of any rock song, affecting not only its compositional structure but also the layout of the lyrics and the song’s effect on the audience.
Nobile is a committed pedagogue and is always exploring novel teaching techniques in both undergraduate and graduate classes. He has recently incorporated elements of “flipped” pedagogy into core theory classes—having students watch online video lectures in preparation for in-class workshops—and frequently uses online forums and blogs to encourage student interaction outside of the classroom.
- “Harmonic Function in Rock Music: A Syntactical Approach.” Journal of Music Theory 60/2 (forthcoming Fall 2016).
- “Counterpoint in Rock Music: Unpacking the ‘Melodic-Harmonic Divorce.’” Music Theory Spectrum 37/2: 189–203 (Fall 2015).
- “Interval Permutations.” Music Theory Online 19/3 (Fall 2013).
- “Form and Voice Leading in Early Beatles Songs.” Music Theory Online 17/3 (Fall 2011).