Drew Nobile is a music theorist specializing in the theory and analysis of popular 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 first book Form as Harmony in Rock Music (Oxford University Press, 2020) offers a comprehensive theory of form for the “classic” rock and pop repertoire of the 1960s, 70s, and 80s. Fusing two central music-theoretical research areas—formal studies and popular music studies—the book demonstrates that chord progressions and formal sections sync up in specific ways, producing a small number of conventional patterns used consistently across genres and decades. In so doing, the book advocates for the value of listening to rock music structurally, arguing that a structural mode of hearing reveals essential features of the style that might otherwise remain below the conscious level.
Nobile's articles on tonality, 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’s next book project, provisionally titled Voice, Narrative, and Form in 90s Rock, explores the relationship between vocal delivery and lyrical narrative across a song’s formal sections, focusing on grunge, alternative, and mainstream rock from the 1990s.
Nobile is a committed pedagogue dedicated to the principle of active learning. He routinely employs “flipped” pedagogy across the classroom—moving lectures outside the classroom into online videos—and frequently uses online forums and blogs to boost student interaction.
- Form as Harmony in Rock Music. Oxford University Press, Studies in Music Theory series. (In press; publication expected May 2020).
- "Double-Tonic Complexes in Rock Music.” Music Theory Spectrum 42/2 (forthcoming 2020).
- “Harmonic Function in Rock Music: A Syntactical Approach.” Journal of Music Theory 60/2 (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).