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Melanie Lowe

Associate Professor of Musicology

Melanie Lowe is Associate Professor of Musicology at Vanderbilt’s Blair School of Music, where she has been on the faculty since 1998. Her research focuses on constructions of musical meaning, from topic theory in late 18th-century music to uses of classical music in 21st-century media, and from “tween” sexuality and nascent feminism in teen pop to ironic masculinity in electropop.

Her book Pleasure and Meaning in the Classical Symphony (Indiana University Press, 2007) explores why the public instrumental music of late-18th-century Europe has remained accessible, entertaining and distinctly pleasurable to a wide variety of listeners for more than 200 years. By placing listeners at the center of interpretive activity, Lowe’s book offers an alternative to more traditional composer- and score-oriented approaches to meaning in the symphonies of Haydn and Mozart.

Her co-edited volume Rethinking Difference in Music Scholarship (Cambridge University Press, 2015) grapples with the changed intellectual landscape since difference-based musicological scholarship was embraced by the field in the 1990s. The book situates difference within broader debates over recognition and freedom, voicing a range of perspectives to reveal why differences and similarities among people matter for music and musical thought.

Among her other musicological publications are articles and reviews published in The Oxford Handbook of Topic Theory, the Journal of Musicology, American Music, Beethoven Forum, Popular Music and Society, The Cambridge Companion to Haydn, the Cambridge Haydn Encyclopedia, the Journal of the American Musicological Society, The World of Music, Popular Music Scenes, and Oxford Bibliographies Online.

Lowe is also deeply committed to the scholarship of teaching, and her publications on pedagogy include articles in the Journal of Music History Pedagogy, the Norton Guide to Teaching Music History, and the edited volume Teaching Music History.

 She has presented scholarly papers throughout North America, Europe, and Australia, and among her numerous awards are the Madison Sarratt Prize for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching, the Reverend James Lawson Lectureship for Service and Leadership, the Blair Faculty Excellence Award, and the Princeton Graduate Alumnae Excellence in Teaching Award.

 Lowe earned her Ph.D. and M.F.A. in Musicology from Princeton University and her B.A. from Smith College.