Steven Rings’s research focuses on transformational
theory, phenomenology, popular music, and questions of music and meaning.
Animating all of his work is an abiding interest in the relationship between
music theory and broadly humanistic inquiries into music as a cultural
practice. His book Tonality and Transformation (Oxford, 2011)—recipient
of the Society for Music Theory’s Emerging Scholar Award—develops a
transformational model of tonal hearing, employing it in interpretive essays on
music from Bach to Mahler. His current book project explores Bob Dylan’s
fifty-year performing career. In other recent work, Rings has focused on the
music of Gabriel Fauré and the writings of philosopher Vladimir Jankélévitch.
Recent graduate seminars have covered topics such as the music of Bob Dylan,
Lewinian transformational theory, musical presence, semiotics, and the music of
Bela Bartók. Rings also teaches tonal and post-tonal theory at the
undergraduate and graduate levels, as well as a course on musical
interpretation and criticism in the college Core. Before becoming a music
theorist, Rings was active as a classical guitarist, performing in the U.S. and
in Portugal, where he was Professor of Guitar at the Conservatório Regional de
Angra do Heroísmo.
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