Faculty & Staff Profiles

Leah Frederick

Assistant Professor of Music

Leah Frederick specializes in mathematical approaches to music theory. She completed her Ph.D. in Music Theory from Indiana University in 2020 and earned a B.S. in Mathematics and a B.M.A. in Viola Performance from Penn State University in 2015.

Frederick’s scholarship examines ways in which musical objects can be represented with mathematical structures. She’s particularly interested in the interpretive nature of this mapping, that is, in the way in which one must make decisions about how to represent musical objects using mathematics in a way that best aligns with musical intuitions. Her current project uses transformational theory to study relationships between patterns in instrumental spaces (i.e., the layout of notes on an instrument) and the corresponding pitch relationships that they produce.

Her recently published work employs geometric and transformational techniques to examine properties of diatonic versus chromatic musical space. Her writing on voice leading in mod-7 space appears (or is forthcoming) in the Journal of Music Theory and Music Theory Spectrum. Her dissertation on this topic was awarded the Society for Music Theory’s 2020 SMT-40 Dissertation Fellowship and Indiana University’s 2018–20 Dean’s Dissertation Prize; a related conference paper received Music Theory Midwest’s 2018 Arthur J. Komar Award.

Frederick currently serves as co-chair of the Society for Music Theory’s Mathematics of Music Interest Group and on the Editorial Board for Music Theory Online. Before coming to the University of Michigan, she taught at Oberlin Conservatory (2019–22), where she was involved in the redesign and launch of Oberlin’s new undergraduate music theory curriculum. While at Indiana University, she served as editor of the Indiana Theory Review and was awarded the Wennerstrom AI Fellowship for outstanding teaching.

Frederick has studied viola with Atar Arad and Tim Deighton, and her writing on the viola repertoire appears in the Journal of the American Viola Society.

PhD, music theory, Indiana University, 2020
BMA, viola performance, Penn State University, 2015
BS, mathematics, Penn State University, 2015

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