Assistant Professor, Music Theory
PhD Indiana University
BA Yale University
Office: DGH 420
Paul Sherrill is a music theorist whose research explores the relationships between musical categories, meaning, and usage, particularly in eighteenth-century Italian opera. Before joining the University of Utah as an Assistant Professor of Music Theory, he taught in visiting positions at The College of Wooster in Ohio and at Georgia State University. He holds a B.A. in Music from Yale University (2009) and a Ph.D. in Music Theory from Indiana University (2016).
One of his areas of research interest is the musical idiom of simple recitative, as heard in the operas by composers such as Handel, Hasse, Mozart, and Rossini. His article "Galant Recitative Schemas," coauthored with Matthew Boyle and published in the Journal of Music Theory, reveals a small lexicon of melodic formulas that are the basis of Italian recitative's musical grammar and expression. This article received the Journal of Music Theory's 2016 David Kraehenbuehl Prize and the Society for Music Theory's 2017 Emerging Scholar Award for a recent article. Paul's ongoing research on recitative explores the expressive associations of particular melodic formulas, the categorical nature of its irregular musical meter, and its function as a musical topic in aria-like contexts.
His other current research project is an exploration of the way that musical forms and genres help musical gestures to create theatrical meaning. This was the subject of his dissertation, "The Metastasian Da Capo Aria: Moral Philosophy, Characteristic Actions, and Dialogic Form," which won the Dean's Dissertation Prize from Indiana University's Jacobs School of Music. The dissertation applies the concepts of dialogic and rotational form (from Hepokoski and Darcy's Elements of Sonata Theory) to develop a theory of the da capo aria. He has also explored the expressive role of form and genre in Mozart's operas, on which subject he has a forthcoming article in Music Theory Online.