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James Borders


James Borders is the Glenn McGeoch Collegiate Professor of Music; former Chair of the Musicology Department; former Associate Dean for Graduate Studies in Music, Theater, and Dance; and former Director of the Stearns Collection of Musical Instruments. He has held Fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities, National Endowment for the Arts, American Council of Learned Societies, Fulbright, and the University of Michigan. He was a CIC Leadership Fellow in 1996–97 and was nominated for an Amoco Teaching Award in 1998. Borders’s research interests include medieval and Renaissance plainchant and aspects of American popular music. Current projects include a book on music for services for the consecration of nuns and a synoptic edition of chants in the medieval Pontificale Romanum. Borders earned his master’s degree and Ph.D. from The University of Chicago, where he studied with Howard Mayer Brown and Edward E. Lowinsky.

Fellowships and Honors

CIC Leadership Fellowship, 1996–97.

National Endowment for the Humanities, Individual Fellowship for University Teachers (supported research on plainchant in the Italian Renaissance), 1990.

National Endowment for the Humanities, Reference Materials (with Prof. David Crawford; for the compilation of RELICS, an extensive database of Renaissance liturgical books printed in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries), 1988.

American Council of Learned Societies, Travel Grant (to address Fourteenth Congress of the International Musicological Society in Bologna, Italy), 1987.

Center for Learning and Research in Teaching, University of Michigan, Faculty Development Research Grant (to expand the use of audio-visual materials in the undergraduate curriculum in musicology), 1985.

National Endowment for the Arts (with Prof. William Malm; for research leading to the publication of a catalogue of the Stearns Collection of Musical Instruments), 1984.

Rackham Fellowship, University of Michigan (to study conservation and restoration of antique stringed instruments at the Scuola civica di liuteria, Milan), 1984.

University Fellowship, University of Chicago (to support the writing of the dissertation), 1979.

Fulbright-Hays Fellowship (supported doctoral research in Verona, Italy), 1978.


American Musicological Society

International Musicological Society

Plainsong and Medieval Music Society

Pi Kappa Lambda Music Honors Society

United States Aikido Federation, Dojinkai, founding member


Review article, “Theodore Karp, Aspects of Orality and Formularity in Gregorian Chant.” Plainsong and Medieval Music 10/2 (2001): 185–196 (in press).

“Form and the Concept Album: Progressive Rock, Modernism, and the Avant-garde in Frank Zappa’s Early Releases.” Perspectives on New Music 39/1 (2001) (in press).

“The 1485 Pontificale Romanum and its Chants.” Il Canto piano nell’Era della Stampa. Edited by Giulio Cattin et al. (Trento: Servizio Beni librari e archivistici, 1999).

“Frank Zappa’s “The Black Page”: A Case of Conceptual Continuity.” Expression in Pop-Rock Music: A Collection of Critical and Analytical Essays. Edited by Walter Everett. (New York: Garland, 1999).

“Chants for the Consecration of a Virgin in the Tenth-Century Pontifical Romano-Germanique.” Chant and its Peripheries: Essays in Honor or Terence Bailey. Edited by Bryan Gillingham and Paul Merkley. Musicological Studies, vol. 72. Ottawa, Canada: Institute for Mediaeval Music, 1998. Pp. 204–17.

Early Medieval Chants from Nonantola. 3 vols. Recent Researches in the Music of the Middle Ages and Early Renaissance, 30–32. Madison: A-R Editions, 1996.

Review article, “Margot Fassler, Gothic Song.” Journal of the American Musicological Society 49 (1996): 314–26.

“Musical Instruments—Winds.” The Encyclopadia Britannica. 15th ed. Chicago, 1992.

“Tropes and the New Philology.” Cantus Planus: Papers Read at the Fourth Meeting, Pecs, Hungary, 3–8 September 1990. Budapest: Institute for Musicology, Hungarian Academy of Sciences, 1992. Pp. 393–406.

“The Northern and Central Italian Trope Repertory and Its Transmission.” Atti del XIV Congresso della Societa Internazionale di Musicologia. Edited by Lorenzo Bianconi et al. Turin: EDT Editori, 1990. Pp. 543–53.

“The Musical Institutions of the Veronese Clergy.” In Le Polifonie primitive nel Friuli e in Europa. Miscellanea musicologica 4. Edited by Pierluigi Petrobelli and Cesare Corsi. Rome: Edizioni Torre d’Orfeo, 1989.

“The Northern Italian Antiphons ante evangelium and the Gallican Connection.” Journal of Musicological Research 8 (1988):1–53.

“A Frankish Bishop’s Book in the Verona Capitular Library: Cod. LXXXVIII and its Contents.” In Music from the Middle Ages through the Twentieth Century: Essays in Honor of Gwynn McPeek. Edited by Carmelo Comberiati and Matthew Steel. New York: Gordon and Breach, 1988. Pp. 3–20.

European and American Wind and Percussion Instruments: Catalogue of the Stearns Collection of Musical Instruments. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1988.

Short reviews of James Boyce, Praising God in Carmel: Studies in the Carmelite Liturgy in Speculum (forthcoming); Thomas F. Kelly, Plainsong in the Age of Polyphony in Journal of Musicological Research (hereinafter JMR) 14 (1994):131–37; Thomas F. Kelly, The Beneventan Chant in JMR 12 (1992): 18s–22s; Clemens von Gleich, Over het Ontstaan van de Muziekafdeling in Journal of the American Musical Instrument Society (hereinafter JAMIS) 14 (1988):168–71; James Coover, Musical Instrument Collections: Catalogues and Cognate Literature in JAMIS 12 (1986):156–58; E.A.K. Ridley, The Royal College of Music Museum of Instruments Catalogue, vol. 1, European Wind Instruments in JAMIS 10 (1984):126–27.

Papers and Presentations

Respondent to four papers on medieval and Renaissance topics in commemorating Theodore Karp’s 75th Birthday, AMS Midwest Chapter Meeting, 29 September 2001 (invited).

“Form in the Orchestral Music of Frank Zappa.” Frank Zappa: Twentieth-Century American Composer, Salvador Dali Museum (Tampa), 21 January 2000 (invited).

“Frank Zappa’s Compositional Process.” A Twentieth-Century Composer Symposium: Modern Influences of Frank Zappa’s Music, Salvador Dali Museum (Tampa), 15 January 1999 (invited).

“The Pontificale Romanum of 1485 and its Chants.” Il Canto Piano nell’Era della Stampa, Castello del Bounconsiglio, Trento, e Fondazione Ugo e Olga Levi, Venezia, 10 October 1998 (invited).

“The Antiphons for the Consecration of Virgins and the Changing Role of Plainchant in the Middle Ages.” International Musicological Society, London, 14 August 1997.

“The Editio princeps of the Pontificale Romanum (1485) and Roman Chant in the Renaissance.” American Musicological Society, Annual Meeting, 5 November 1993.

“Tropes and the New Philology.” International Musicological Society (Study Group ‘Cantus Planus’), 4 September 1990.

“The Changing Role of Melodic Formulae in Medieval Chant.” Medieval Academy of America, 64th Annual Meeting, April 1989 (invited).

“The Conservation and Display of Native American Musical Instruments: The University Perspective.” Society for Ethnomusicology, Annual Meeting, October 1988 (invited).

“The Idea of Musical Repetition in the Trope.” The Lyrica Society, Annual Meeting, May 1988 (invited).

“Uses of the Bible in the Medieval Chant Repertory.” 23rd International Congress on Medieval Studies, May 1988 (invited).

“The Northern and Central Italian Trope Repertory and Its Transmission.” 14th Congress of the International Musicological Society, August 1987.

“The Northern Italian Antiphons ante Evangelium.” American Musicological Society, Annual Meeting, November 1986.

“Gregorian Chant: Its Style, Liturgical Context, and Relevance to Modern Performers.” Eighth International Organ and Church Music Institute, July 1986 (invited).

“New Light on the Performance of Gregorian Chant from a Veronese Source (Cod. Capit. XCIV).” American Musicological Society, Midwest Regional Meeting, May 1986.

“Renaissance Printed Liturgical Books: The Prospects for Research.” 20th International Congress on Medieval Studies, May 1986.

“The Melodic Transmission of Introit Tropes in Northern Italy.” American Musicological Society, Annual Meeting, November 1984.

“A View of the Development of Gregorian Chant in Northern Italy.” American Musicological Society, Midwest Regional Meeting, March 1983.

“New Criteria for the New Catalogue of the Stearns Collection.” American Musical Instrument Society, Annual Meeting, May 1983.
Teaching at the University of Michigan

Dissertations Advised

(“The English Carol.”) Adele Smaill, Ph.D. Summer, 2002 (projected).

“The Creativity in Culture: Creolization in the Musical Genres of the Seychelles Islands.” Michael Naylor, Ph.D. 1997.

“The Interrelation of Music and Dance in Aaron Copland’s Appalachian Spring.” Marta Robertson, Ph.D. 1992.

Courses Taught

Introduction to Music (Musicology 139)

The History of Western Music, Medieval-Renaissance (Musicology 140)

The History of Western Music through 1750 (Musicology 239)

The History of Western Music, 1900 to the Present (Musicology 240)

Medieval Music (Musicology 477/577)

Music and Ritual: Ceremonials of the Latin West (Musicology 456/556)

Introduction to Graduate Study I (Musicology 501)

Introduction to Graduate Study II (Musicology 502)

Difficult Music (Music Theory 406/506)

The History of Music Theory, Antiquity to 1600 (Musicology 521 / Music Theory 521)

Music in Medieval Culture (Medieval and Renaissance Collegium 411)

Frank Zappa and American Pop (Musicology 406)

The History of Musical Instruments (Musicology 416/516)

Directed Research in Organology (Musicology 405/505)

Chant (Musicology 303)


Thirteenth through early Fifteenth-Century Polyphony in England and France

Oral and Written Traditions in Music

Plainchant in Medieval Italy

Music and Religion in the Western Tradition

Contact Information

James Borders, Ph.D.
The University of Michigan, School of Music, Theatre & Dance
Earl V. Moore Building, 1100 Baits Dr.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109–2085
Phone: (743) 764–0590
Fax: (743) 763–5097


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Photography Credits:

U-M Photo Services

Joe Welsh

Peter Smith

David Smith

Glen Behring

Tom Bower