Sumanth S Gopinath

Associate Professor: Music Theory

Sumanth Gopinath is Associate Professor of Music Theory. He is the author of The Ringtone Dialectic: Economy and Cultural Form (MIT Press, 2013). He co-edited, with Jason Stanyek, The Oxford Handbook of Mobile Music Studies (Oxford University Press, 2014) and Rethinking Reich with Pwyll ap Siôn (Oxford University Press, 2019). His writings on Steve Reich, musical minimalism, Marxism and music scholarship, the Nike+ Sport Kit, the ringtone industry, Bob Dylan, and Benjamin Britten have appeared in various scholarly journals and edited collections. He is working on a book project on musical minimalism and is conducting research on sound in new and formerly new media, Bob Dylan's musicianship, the aesthetics of smoothness, and the music of the Scottish composer James Dillon. He is the leader of the independent Americana band The Gated Community.

Educational Background & Specialties

Educational Background

  • Ph.D.: Music, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut, 2005.
  • M.Ph.: Music, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut, 2001.
  • B.S.: Electrical Engineering, University of Texas at Austin, Austin, Texas, 1997.


  • music after WWII
  • avant-garde and experimental musics
  • music and politics
  • musical hermeneutics
  • popular music
  • sound studies
  • music and globalization
Courses Taught
  • Theory and Analysis of 20th Century Music
  • Music and Meaning
  • Musical Minimalisms
  • Sonata Theory
  • Theory and Analysis of American Popular Music
  • Marx for Today
  • Foundations of Music Theory: Analysis and Ear-Training
  • Sociologies of Music
Research & Professional Activities


  • The Gated Community: Americana band, 2006 - present
  • Rethinking Reich, co-edited with Pwyll ap Siôn, Oxford University Press, 2019. More information here.
  • “Technologies of the Musical Selfie,” coauthored with Jason Stanyek, in Nicholas Cook and David Trippett, eds., The Cambridge Companion to Music in Digital Culture (Cambridge University Press, 2019), 89–118.
  • “Sentimental Remembrance and the Amusements of Forgetting in Karl and Harty’s ‘Kentucky,’” co-authored with Anna Schultz, Journal of the American Musicological Society 69/2 (Summer 2016), 477–524.
  • “Researching the Mobile Phone Ringtone: Towards and Beyond The Ringtone Dialectic,” in Richard Purcell and Richard Randall, eds., Listening Spaces: 21st Century Perspectives on Music, Technology, and Culture (Palgrave Macmillan, 2015), 182–194.
  • The Oxford Handbook of Mobile Music Studies, vols. 1 and 2, co-edited with Jason Stanyek, Oxford University Press, 2014. More information:The Oxford Handbook of Mobile Music Studies, Volume 1 and The Oxford Handbook of Mobile Music Studies, Volume 2
  • The Ringtone Dialectic: Economy and Cultural Form, MIT Press, 2013. Supplemental website at
  • “Tuning the Human Race: Athletic Capitalism and the Nike+ Sport Kit,” co-authored with Jason Stanyek, in Music, Sound, and Space: Transformations of Public and Private Experience, ed. Georgina Born (Cambridge University Press, 2013), 128–148.
  • “Britten’s Serenade and the Politico-Moral Crises of the Wartime Conjuncture: Hermeneutic and Narrative Notes on the ‘Nocturne,'” in Musical Narrative since 1900, ed. Michael Klein and Nicholas Reyland (Indiana University Press, 2012), 234–253.
  • “Reich in Blackface: Oh Dem Watermelons and Radical Minstrelsy in the 1960s,“Journal of the Society for American Music 5/2 (May 2011), 139–193.
  • “Diversity, Music Theory, and the Neoliberal Academy,“Gamut 2/1 (2009), 62–88, available online
  • “The Problem of the Political in Steve Reich’s Come Out (1966),“ in Sound Commitments: Avant-Garde Music and The Sixties (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009), 121–144.
  • ““˜Somewhere Down in the United States’: The Art of Bob Dylan’s Ventriloquism,“ co-authored with Michael Cherlin, in Highway 61 Revisited: Dylan’s Road from Minnesota to the World (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2009), 225–236.
  • Book Review: Review of Robert Carl, Terry Riley’s In C, in American Music 28/3 (Fall 2011), 388–391.
  • “The Social Movement in the New Musicology and Marxist Music Studies,“ in M. Jablonksi (Ed.), Interdisciplinary Studies in Musicology 5, “New Musicology“ (Poznan: Poznan University Press, 2006), 73–96.
  • Book Review: Review of Music and Marx, ed. Regula Qureshi, in Music Theory Spectrum 27/2 (Fall 2005), 308–318.
  • “Ringtones, or, the Auditory Logic of Globalization,“First Monday 10/12 (December 2005), available online
  • ““˜A Composer Looks East’: Steve Reich and Discourse on Non-Western Music,“Glendora Review 3/3–4 (2004), 134–145.