Neil Lerner

Education

Ph.D., M.A. Duke University
B.A. Transylvania University

Background

I'm a musicologist who specializes in the history and analysis of music and screen media like film music, television music, and even video game music. I try to help students to see (if not to hear) the powerful connections between music and culture; sometimes the cultures in my classes are quite ancient, while other times they are contemporary and modern. I try to trace connections between the musical codes we have inherited back to their earlier origins. No matter the chronology or geography, I believe that exceptional thinking and writing about music comes from careful attention to the musical sounds and issues confronting performers, composers, and listeners, just as a careful consideration of the history and contexts of the music leads to remarkable compositions and performances. My own performance training was as a pianist, bassoonist, and harpsichordist, and I sometimes compose incidental music and create sound design for theater projects, though mostly now my involvement with music is as a listener and writer.

After studying music in documentary films for my dissertation, I went on to write about music in a wide variety of cinematic genres (including Westerns, science fiction, and horror) with my more recent work focusing on music for television, animation, and video games. I've delivered regional, national, and international presentations, including papers for the American Musicological Society, the Society for American Music, the Society for Cinema and Media Studies, the Royal Music Association, Domitor, Orphans, Visible Evidence, the Society for Disability Studies, and all five of the conferences sponsored by Slayage and the Whedon Studies Association. Right now I am researching the transmission of musical styles between cinema practices of the early twentieth century and video games of the 1970s, and I'm co-editing two new books: Music in Video Games (Routledge) and The Oxford Handbook of Music and Disability Studies.

In addition to serving on the editorial board of the journal Music, Sound, and the Moving Image, and editing the book series "Music and Screen Media" with Routledge, I also serve as editor of the journal American Music. I currently serve as secretary for the Society for American Music, and I've also served on the National Council of the American Musicological Society and as president of the American Musicological Society-Southeast Chapter.

I'm also the faculty adviser for Davidson College's chapter of Hillel.

Teaching

MUS 101W Writing/s About Music
MUS 110 Exploring Music
MUS 122 Music of the United States
MUS 223 Copland
MUS 228 Film Music
MUS 229 U.S. Culture of the 1950s
MUS 271 Modernism/Postmodernism 
MUS 325 Music History I: Antiquity to 1800
MUS 328 Music History II: After 1800
MUS 380 Herrmann/Hitchcock
MUS 401 Senior Seminar
FMS 220 Introduction to Film and Media Studies
FMS 321 Interactive Digital Narratives
FMS 421 The Horror Film
HUM 160 Cultures & Civilizations I
HUM 250 The Western Tradition: The Renaissance to the Eighteenth Century
HUM 251 The Western Tradition: The Modern World