Michael Gallope

My research joins together music, philosophy, and the cultural history of the avant-garde. In my first book, Deep Refrains: Music, Philosophy, and the Ineffable (University of Chicago Press, 2017), I cross boundaries of language, philosophical orientation, and aesthetic tradition to forge a comparative analysis of writings on music by Arthur Schopenhauer, Friedrich Nietzsche, Ernst Bloch, Theodor Adorno, Vladimir Jankélévitch, Gilles Deleuze, and Félix Guattari. The book argues that music's ineffability is neither a conservative phenomenon nor a pious call to silence. It is instead a cause of perplexity that inspires intellectuals to address, in an ethical fashion, intricate philosophical questions specific to the modern world.

My second book, Strange Inscriptions: The Ineffable Avant-Garde, 1958–78, argues that a philosophical approach to music’s ineffability is also deeply relevant to diverse locales of the post-war American avant-garde. Through the prism of six case histories—David Tudor, Ornette Coleman, the Velvet Underground, Alice Coltrane, Patti Smith, and Richard Hell—music’s ineffability reemerges not as a conceit based in music’s abstraction, but as a sense of perplexity that surrounds complex, collaborative musical practices that are both forceful and unstable in their exact meaning. Strange Inscriptions argues that these musicians—all of whom are understudied, and none of whom are traditionally taken to be composers—not only challenged the rules by which music is written and practiced, but also confounded and reconfigured gendered and racialized expectations for what critics took to be legitimate forms of musical sound.

As a practicing musician I have worked in a variety of genres from avant-garde composition, experimental music, and free improvisation to rock music and electronic dance music. In Minneapolis, I currently play with the drone band, IE. From 2010–13, I performed, toured, and served as manager for Sierra Leonean singer Janka Nabay, and collaborated with him on a full length album released by David Byrne's label Luaka Bop in 2012. The band's performances were featured at The Museum of Modern Art, The Getty Center, The Kennedy Center, The Arab American National Museum, The Chicago World Music Festival, Bonnaroo Music Festival, P.S. 1 Warm-Up Series, Celebrate Brooklyn, The Wexner Center for the Arts, and The Brooklyn Academy of Music, among numerous other festivals and venues. Our collaboration is the subject of an article-in-progress entitled "World Music Without Profit: The Fractured Cosmopolitanism of Janka Nabay's Bubu Music." A second full-length album with Nabay was released on Luaka Bop in 2017.

Educational Background & Specialties

Educational Background

  • M.A., Ph.D.: Historical Musicology, New York University, 2011.
  • Advanced Certificate: Poetics and Theory, New York University, 2011.
  • B.M., B.A. Visual Arts: Oberlin, 2003.

Curriculum Vitae


  • Music and Sound
  • Continental Philosophy and Critical Theory
  • Aesthetics
  • Black/African Diaspora
  • The Avant-Gardes
Courses Taught
  • CSCL 1202W: Media (Word, Image, Sound)
  • CSCL 1905: New York in the 1970s: Punk, Hip-Hop, and Salsa (Freshman Seminar)
  • CSCL 3172: Music as Discourse
  • CSCL 5302: Aesthetics and the Valuation of Art
  • CSCL 5910: Sound Studies
  • CL/CSDS 8910: The Linguistic Turn
  • CL/CSDS 8910: Formalisms (Word, Image, Sound, Space)
  • CL/CSDS 8910: Ephemerality
  • CL/CSDS 8910: Structuralism
Research & Professional Activities

Professional Activities

  • Chair: Music and Philosophy Study Group, American Musicological Society, 2017–20
  • Member: American Musicological Society Council, 2017–2020
  • Conference Committee: Music and Philosophy Study Group of the Royal Musical Association (United Kingdom)


  • Janka Nabay and the Bubu Gang, En Yay Sah (Luaka Bop, 2012),
  • Janka Nabay and the Bubu Gang, Build Music (Luaka Bop, 2017),
  • Gallope, Michael A. Deep Refrains: Music, Philosophy, and the Ineffable. (University of Chicago Press, 2017)
  • Gallope, Michael A, Natilee Harren, John Hicks (Eds.). The Scores Project: Musical Notation and the Mid-Century Avant-Garde. (Getty Publications, Under Contract)
  • Gallope, Michael A. "On Close Reading and Sound Recording." Duke University Humanities Futures (2016): Link
  • Gallope, Michael A. "Treble—Bright—Daylight Savings." Walker Art Center: The Green Room (2016): Link
  • Gallope, Michael A. "Is Improvisation Present?." Oxford Handbook of Critical Improvisation Studies (2015):
  • Gallope, Michael A, Brian Kane. "Music." The Nancy Dictionary (2015):
  • Gallope, Michael A. "The Universal Form of Badiou's Wagner." Opera Quarterly 30 (2014): Link
  • Gallope, Michael A. "Why Was This Music Desirable? On A Critical Explanation of the Avant-Garde." Journal of Musicology 31/2 (2014): 199–230. Link
  • Gallope, Michael A. "Michael Gallope Responds...." Journal of Musicology 31/2 (2014): 297–8. Link
  • Gallope, Michael A. "Ernst Bloch's Utopian Tone of Hope." Contemporary Music Review 31/5–6 (2012): 371–387. Link
  • Gallope, Michael A, Brian Kane. "Vladimir Jankélévitch's Philosophy of Music: A Colloquy." Journal of the American Musicological Society 65/1 (2012): 215–256. Link
  • Gallope, Michael A. "Technics, Consciousness, and Musical Objects." Music and Consciousness (2011): 47–64. Link
  • Gallope, Michael A. "Cavell and Deleuze." Journal of Music Theory 54/1: Spring (2010): 107–120. Link
  • Gallope, Michael A. "The Sound of Repeating Life: Metaphysics and Ethics in Gilles Deleuze’s Philosophy of Music." Radical Difference: Deleuzian Perspectives on the Theory and Philosophy of Music (2010): 77–102. Link
  • Gallope, Michael A. "Is There a Deleuzian Musical Work?." Perspectives of New Music 46/2 (2008): 93–129. LinkDownload
  • Gallope, Michael A. "Jean-Luc Nancy's Listening." Current Musicology 86 (2008): 157–166. Download
  • National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Stipend, Summer 2016
  • Faculty Residential Fellow, Institute for Advanced Study, University of Minnesota, Fall 2015
  • Research Fellowship, Center for Popular Music Studies, Case Western Reserve University, Summer 2015
  • Harper-Schmidt Fellow, Society of Fellows in the Liberal Arts, University of Chicago, 2011 - 2013
  • University of Southern California Provost’s Postdoctoral Scholar in the Humanities (declined), 2011
  • NYU Humanities Initiative Graduate Student Research Fellowship, 2010 - 2011
  • Mellon Fellowship in the Humanities, 2004 - 2005