Frank Lehman: Music Theorist

Speaking at Tanglewood, Summer 2019

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, & KCRW), The Boston GlobeThe Ringer, and numerous podcasts and interviews. I have given talks on musical structure and psychology at a variety of venues, most recently the Tanglewood Learning Institute in Lenox MA.

With John Williams

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.

Hollywood Harmony

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 am 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.

Granoff Music Center, Tufts University

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. And in 2019 I began a term as Reviews Editor for Music Theory Spectrum. Please contact me if you’re interested in having a book reviewed in this journal!

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


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