Dustin Chau

Dustin Chau
Cohort Year: 2020
Research Interests: Black experimental music, contrapuntal studies, critical race theory, improvisation, mathematical music theory, music videos, popular music, timbre
Education: BM/MM, University of Kansas, 2019

Dustin maintains a double life as a music theorist by day while moonlighting as a guitarist of improvisatory traditions. His main research focuses on two broad themes: mathematical music theory and critical improvisation studies. Regarding the former, Dustin’s recent research has engaged Gustav Holst’s late period and Paul Hindemith’s stacked canons using transformation theory. He is planning on expanding this project toward a general approach to twentieth-century contrapuntal studies. With the latter, he strives to decenter traditional approaches to “jazz” analysis by exploring marginalized theories while simultaneously engaging the ethical and artistic priorities of free music and Black experimental practitioners. Although these two studies remain separate in his research agenda, he is interested in creating points of contact between them pedagogically with a firm belief that music theory and “jazz” can mutually benefit one another in productive ways. Furthermore, he is interested in popular music analysis with a particular emphasis on timbre and music videos. Before matriculating into the University of Chicago, Dustin was a gigging musician in the Kansas City area and lecturer of guitar at Washburn University in Topeka, Kansas.

Outside of the academy, Dustin enjoys headbanging to metal and electronic music, watching anime (especially Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure), long-distance running, playing fantasy football, and hiking in the Pacific Northwest.