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Paul Sherrill
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Paul Sherrill

Assistant Professor, Music Theory

PhD Indiana University
BA Yale University

Office: DGH  420
Faculty Page


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.

Courses Taught

  • TBA


2016: David Kraehenbuehl Prize, Journal of Music Theory for “Galant Recitative Schemas”

2017: Emerging Scholar Award (Article), Society for Music Theory for “Galant Recitative Schemas”

2018: Article published: “Susanna’s ‘Deh vieni.’” Music Theory Online 24/4. 

2019: Conference Presentation: “Se cerca, da capo.” Music Theory Midwest (University of Western Ontario, May 19).

2019: Conference Presentation: “Recognition, Reversal, and Style Change in ‘Se cerca, se dice.’” Co-authored with Matthew Boyle and Nathaniel Mithcell. American Handel Festival, Indiana University (February 8).

2019: Conference Presentation: “Partial Orders of Modal Brightness.” At Music Theory Midwest (University of Cincinnati, May 10) and Society for Music Theory (Columbus, OH, November 9).

2020: Roland Jackson Award, American Musicological Society for “Susanna’s ‘Deh vieni.’”

2021: Book Review of The Oxford Handbook of Critical Concepts in Music Theory, ed. Alexander Rehding and Steven Rings. Music Theory Online 27/1. Co-authored with Antares Boyle, Rebecca Leydon, and Jeffrey Swinkin.

2021:  Book chapter accepted: “On Recitative Intrusions in Le nozze di Figaro.” In Analyzing Mozart’s Operas, edited by Nathan John Martin and Lauri Suurpää. Analysis in Context, Leuven Studies in Musicology. Leuven, Belgium: Peeters, forthcoming.


2018–2022: Blind peer reviewer for several articles per year in prestigious journals, including Journal of Music Theory, Music Theory Spectrum, Music Theory Online, Journal of Musicology, Musicology Today.

2019–2021: Committee Member: College of Fine Arts College Council

2019–2022: Coordinator of Fridays with Faculty lecture series

2020-2023: Committee Member: University Interdisciplinary Teaching Program Committee

2021–2022: Program Note Author and Board Member for Chamber Music Society of Salt Lake City

2021: Rocky Mountain Society for Music Theory, program committee member

2022: Rocky Mountain Society for Music Theory, best student paper award committee member

Last Updated: 5/15/23