Music Theory


Public Lecture

The public lecture must be completed before the oral qualifying exam may be scheduled. Students should normally register for T659 Public Lecture (0 credits) in the semester in which the lecture will be given (or consult with the department chair in cases in which this may not be possible).

Public lectures must be presented as part of the Music Theory Colloquium Series. The format is as follows: A prepared talk of 30 minutes or longer, followed by 5–10 minutes allotted for questions from a designated faculty respondent, followed by a general question period. Exceptions to the length requirement may be made for papers that have been accepted to conferences imposing shorter time limits.

In preparation for the lecture, it is the student’s responsibility to:

  • Consult with the advisory committee chair to identify and request the faculty respondent. The respondent must be a member of the theory faculty, but must not be the advisory committee chair, and should not be involved in the crafting of the lecture.
  • Arrange the date with the departmental colloquium committee, and inform the committee that the lecture will be in fulfillment of the Public Lecture requirement.
  • Inform all members of the advisory committee, as well as the faculty respondent, of the date of the public lecture, and ensure in advance that they all will be present (or arrange for another faculty member to substitute for a committee member if necessary).
  • At least two weeks prior to the lecture, make the text of the lecture available to the advisory committee chair and to the faculty respondent (and/or to other faculty, at the committee chair’s request).

The advisory committee chair must approve the text of the public lecture before presentation. If the chair requests changes, it is the student’s responsibility to ensure that the faculty respondent has the most up-to-date version of the text in a reasonable amount of time before the lecture. It is expected that the student will not otherwise work with the faculty respondent prior to the lecture.

Lectures are usually drawn from papers written in graduate theory courses, particularly T658 seminars. The student is encouraged to meet with the instructor of the course in question to discuss the suitability of the material for a public lecture. The lecture should demonstrate originality in its scholarship and professionalism in its presentation. It should be well organized and carefully prepared, in the manner of a conference paper. Papers are normally read from a prepared text or detailed notes. Handouts, audiovisual examples, and computer-assisted presentations are commonly used and should be of professional quality.

Students, especially those with little or no prior experience in giving public presentations, are encouraged to rehearse the lecture several times in advance, in conditions simulating the lecture situation as closely as possible. Practicing in front of a few friends can be helpful, as can recording your presentation. In listening to the recording, listen for clarity, pacing, and overall timing.

The public lecture is graded satisfactory or unsatisfactory by the student’s advisory committee. If the lecture is judged unsatisfactory, the committee will offer comments and advice, and the student will be required to give another public lecture at a later date.