Frank Lehman: Music Theorist

I am an Associate Professor of Music at Tufts University, and hold degrees from Brown University (B.A.) and Harvard University (PhD). As a music theorist, I am interested in how music works and what effects it has on its listeners. My research has explored a range of styles and repertoires, from nineteenth century instrumental compositions to film scores to ambient music. I’ve recently focused on the composers John Williams and Hans Zimmer. My work has been featured in The Washington PostThe New YorkerThe Chronicle of Higher Education, NPR (WBURWFAE, and KCRW), The Boston GlobeThe Ringer, and numerous podcasts and interviews. I have given talks on film music structure and psychology at a variety of venues, most recently the Tanglewood Learning Institute in Lenox MA.

My first book, entitled Hollywood Harmony, was published by Oxford University Press in 2018. This book examines the way that music in American cinema structures a filmgoer’s experience of both narrative and temporality, and it focuses especially on the evocation of the affect of wonder through non-functional ‘pantriadic’ chromaticism. I’m also beginning work on a second monograph, on the topic of style and structure in the music of John Williams. My catalogue of the musical themes of Star Wars, accessible on this site, has been widely shared and publicized; be sure to check it often to see what’s been updated and added lately!

At Tufts, I serve as Director of Undergraduate Studies and Music Theory Coordinator for the Music Department, as well as sitting on the Academic Awards Committee and acting as a Pre-Major Advisor for incoming freshmen. I’ve previously served as Secretary for the New England Conference of Music Theorists and the Vice Chair for the Film & Multimedia Interest Group at the Society for Music Theory. I sit on the editorial board for several music journals, including The Journal of Film Music and Journal of the Society for American Music. In 2019 I began serving as Reviews Editor for Music Theory Spectrum; please contact me if you’re interested in having a book reviewed in this journal.


Upcoming Events and Talks

June 10
Talk at Society for American Music
“Race, Class, and the Responsibilities of Representation in Rosewood

Contact Me
Dr. Frank Lehman
Associate Professor of Music,
Tufts University


Physical Address
Granoff Music Center
Tufts University
20 Talbot Avenue
MA 02155