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 symphonies to film scores to ambient albums.

I’ve recently focused on the composers John Williams and Hans Zimmer. This year, the New York Times published a major interactive article on subject of scoring action scenes in the Indiana Jones series. You can check it out it here. (Be sure to have your speakers on!)

My work has also been featured in The Washington PostThe New YorkerThe Chronicle of Higher Ed, NPR (KERA, UPR, WBURWFAE, & KCRW), The Boston GlobeThe Ringer, and an ever-increasing number of podcasts and interviews. Public Musicology and outreach are extremely important to me: I have given talks on musical structure, meaning, and psychology at a variety of venues, including at the opening season of the Tanglewood Learning Institute in Lenox MA.

My first book, entitled Hollywood Harmony: Musical Wonder and the Sound of Cinema, 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.

My next book is an multi-author volume with Routledge Press, entitled Music Analysis and Film: Studying the Score. Look out for this book, with a stellar lineup of distinguished and exciting film musicologists, in Summer 2024!

I am currently hard at work on a second monograph, on the topic of style and structure in the music of John Williams, focusing on his nine scores for the Skywalker Saga. 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. I’ve also put together thematic catalogues for Williams’s contributions to the Indiana Jones (including the Dial of Destiny!) and Home Alone series, and have plenty more planned. Stay tuned!

At Tufts, I serve as the Music Theory Coordinator for the Music Department, and also sit on the Academic Awards Committee. I’ve previously served as Director of Undergraduate Studies at Tufts Music, as well 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’ve sat on the editorial board for several music journals, including The Journal of Film Music and Journal of the Society for American Music.

I am available for talks, lectures, interviews, and classroom visits. I’ve also provided expert consultation for legal disputes on matters of musical intellectual property.

Feel free to peruse and download anything you find on my personal site, and reach out to me ( if there’s anything you’d like to hear more about!

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


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


Raising the next generation of film (music) lover.