Composer Forum: Clifton Boyd

Thursday, March 07, 2024 at 5:00pm to 6:30pm

Building 14, Lewis Music Library
160 MEMORIAL DR, Cambridge, MA 02139

About the Composer Forum Series

The MIT Music & Theater Arts Composer Forum is a series of public presentations by composers from inside and outside of MIT. Hosted in the Lewis Music Library, the MTA Composer Forum Series gives the MIT Community an opportunity to engage with leading voices in every field of Composition. Past presenters include John Harbison, Julia Wolfe, Terry Riley, Don Byron, and others. 

Please join us for a light reception following the talk.


About the Speaker

Clifton Boyd is Visiting Assistant Professor of Music at New York University, where he will transition into his role as Assistant Professor in 2024. His research explores themes of racial identity, politics, and social justice in American popular music. His current book project, Racial Dissonance: American Barbershop Harmony in the Age of Jim Crow, explores how barbershop quartet singing functioned as a site of racial division, ultimately resulting in Black Americans going from being recognized as an essential part of the barbershop tradition to being viewed as fundamentally incompatible with, and even threatening to, the musical style. Boyd's publications appear in Music Theory and AnalysisMusic Theory OnlineMusic Theory SpectrumTheory and PracticeAmerican Music, and Inside Higher Ed, as well as the edited collections The Oxford Handbook for Public Music Theory and Being Black In The Ivory: Truth-Telling About Racism In Higher Education. His research has been supported by fellowships from the American Musicological Society, the Society for American Music, and the American Council of Learned Societies. Boyd is also active in anti-racism and social-justice efforts in music studies: in 2017, he founded Project Spectrum, a graduate student–led coalition committed to increasing diversity, equity, and inclusion in music academia. As chair, he oversaw the organization of their inaugural national symposium, "Diversifying Music Academia: Strengthening the Pipeline" (2018). At NYU, he co-convenes the working group "Music Theory for Whom? A Comprehensive Reform of Music Theory Curricula Across NYU," which aims to contribute to national efforts to redefine who music theory serves and how it can inform one’s relationship with the music (and world) around them.

Event Type

Performing Arts

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Public, MIT Community, Students, Alumni, Faculty, Staff

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School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences (SHASS)


music, talk, Forum, composer



Free and Open to the Public

MIT Libraries, MIT Music and Theater Arts


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