Michael Gallope

I study the way music is linked to philosophical, cultural, and spiritual practices. I am particularly interested in the disorienting impact of musical sound, an impact that is perennially difficult to describe. In Western musical aesthetics, the ineffability of music has traditionally been associated with autonomous, abstract, and non-semantic conceptions of music. My first book, Deep Refrains: Music, Philosophy, and the Ineffable (University of Chicago Press, 2017) challenges these conservative associations by showing how music’s ineffability spurred an array of modern European philosophers (principally, Bloch, Adorno, Jankélévitch, and Deleuze) to address ethically engaged questions and problems that reside at the limits of conceptual reasoning.

I am now working on my second book, Strange Inscriptions: The Ineffable Avant-Garde, 1958–78. It 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 through mystical conceits that surround 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 musician, I work in a variety of genres that span a range of experimental music, rock, and electronic dance music. In Minneapolis, I currently play with the drone band, IE. From 2010–18, I performed, toured, and served as co-manager for Sierra Leonean singer Janka Nabay, and collaborated with him on two full length albums released by David Byrne's label Luaka Bop. 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, Prospect Park / Celebrate Brooklyn, Brooklyn Academy of Music, and at international festivals in Denmark (Roskilde), Netherlands (Lowlands), Portugal (Milhoes De Festa), Germany (By the Lake), Poland (OFF), Norway (Øya), Spain (Sinsal Audio), Italy (Pop Sagra Urbana), and the United Kingdom (Walthamstow Garden Party), among numerous other festivals and venues.

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
  • CL/CSDS 8910: Mysticisms of the Avant-Garde (Fall 2018)
Research & Professional Activities

Professional Activities

  • Co-Founder and Chair, AMS Music and Philosophy Study Group: 2017 - 2020
  • AMS Ruth A. Solie Award Committee: 2019 - 2021
  • Editorial Board Member, Music Theory Online: 2019 - 2021
  • AMS 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
  • IE: Pome (Moon Glyph), 2018
  • 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
  • McKnight Presidential Fellow, 2018 - 2021
  • Sabbatical Supplement, College of Liberal Arts, University of Minnesota, 2019 - 2020
  • AMS 75 PAYS Publication Subvention, 2017
  • National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) Summer Stipend, Summer 2016
  • Faculty Residential Fellow, Institute for Advanced Study, University of Minnesota, Fall 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
  • Andrew W. Mellon Fellowship in the Humanities, 2004 - 2005