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Mark Gotham

Active Learning Initiative Postdoctoral Associate in Computational Music Theory Pedagogy

Overview

Mark Gotham is a composer-theorist based at Cornell University where he holds the post of Postdoctoral Associate in Computational Music Theory Pedagogy.

Mark graduated from the University of Oxford (Christ Church) with the Gibbs prize for the highest-ranking first class degree awarded in music; from the Royal Northern College of Music with an MMus in composition (supported by a full Arts and Humanities Research Council scholarship); and from the University of Cambridge (King’s College) with a PhD in music theory (Newton Trust scholarship). During his PhD, he took up some professional appointments at the University, and he remained in Cambridge to continue and expand that range. These appointments included Affiliated Lecturer in the Faculty of Music, College Lecturer and Director of Music-Making at Churchill College, and Director of Music and Director of Studies in Music at Murray Edwards College. He also ran the University’s choral awards scheme which populates Cambridge’s celebrated collegiate choirs, and oversaw the introduction of graduate students into that scheme for the first time.

His early career encompassed a wide range of musical activities including performance, composition and arrangement, teaching, and research (including a first post as McCann Research Fellow at the Royal Academy of Music prior to starting his PhD). Performance engagements have included playing several instruments, singing (both as a freelance baritone and as a Lay Clerk in the Chelmsford and Ely Cathedral Choirs), and conducting. As a conductor he worked primarily with student groups through his university roles. Professional highlights included conducting principals of the London Symphony Orchestra and Philharmonia Orchestra in contemporary music projects.

The debut commercial recording of his compositions – ‘Utrumne est Ornatum’ – was released by Regent Records in 2018, featuring a range of (mostly choral) works and performers including the celebrity guest narrator, Tom Hollander. Other composition highlights have included broadcasts on BBC Radio 3 and national Chinese television, performances at St Martin in the Fields and the Aldeburgh Festival, commissions from the King’s Lynn and Thaxted Festivals. Future plans include a growing collaboration with the poet John Kinsella, and a new piece for the 50th anniversary of the Fitzwilliam String Quartet.

Mark’s composition is directly linked to his music theoretic research: his research explores compositional concerns systematically (what is possible, and what have composers chosen to do with those possibilities), and his compositions are often motivated by a specific structural idea originating from music theory. This research has encompassed a wide range of topics including theoretical work on pitch, metre, and timbral structures; analysis of modal, tonal and post-tonal repertoires; and an increasing focus on mathematical and computational approaches to these questions. He has published extensively in music theory, analysis, and computational musicology journals.

In addition to teaching, research and composition, Mark is passionate about making a positive contribution to social issues through music and has recently focussed on using computational resources in this connection to democratise access to music theory. He established a social enterprise – ‘Four Score and More’ – to this effect through which he has organised mass encoding projects, and an automatic music theory exercise generator called ‘Cut Outs.’ He is excited about continuing that work in collaboration with new colleagues at Cornell.

Departments/Programs

  • Music