Drew Nobile

Drew Nobile's picture
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 a music theorist specializing in the analysis of rock music. Before coming to the UO, he served on the music faculty at the University of Chicago (2013–15) and Brooklyn College (2010–13). He received his Ph.D. from the City University of New York’s Graduate Center in 2014, where his dissertation on form, harmony, and counterpoint in rock music received the Barry S. Brook Dissertation Award.

Nobile's articles on counterpoint, harmonic function, the Beatles, and Schoenberg have appeared in Music Theory Spectrum, the Journal of Music Theory, and Music Theory Online, and he has given talks at numerous international, national, and regional conferences and symposia. His research has received the Adam Krims Emerging Scholar Award from the Society for Music Theory’s Popular Music Interest Group (2017), the Patricia Carpenter Emerging Scholar Award from the Music Theory Society of New York State (2011), and the Dorothy Payne Award from the Music Theory Society of the Mid-Atlantic (2012).

Nobile has received three UO grants—including an Oregon Humanities Center Fellowship in Fall 2016—supporting his book project titled Form as Harmony in Rock Music. The book offers the first comprehensive theory of form for the “classic rock” repertoire of the 1960s, 70s, and 80s. Many aspects of a rock song—lyrical structure, thematic design, etc.—ultimately trace back to interactions between form and harmony. The book further shows that rock’s formal and harmonic structures synchronize into a small number of conventional patterns used consistently across genres and decades. These patterns define a dialogue framing our perception of individual songs, with each track’s idiosyncrasies heard against the normative expectations. The broad applicability of the norms further suggests that form might be the single factor uniting rock’s myriad subgenres within the same musical style.

Nobile is a committed pedagogue and is always exploring novel teaching techniques in both undergraduate and graduate classes. He routinely incorporates 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.

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