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Professor of Music



Office: NCH109


Matthew Butterfield specializes in American music, particularly jazz and blues.  Trained as a jazz pianist, he received his bachelor’s degree in music from Amherst College in 1991, and then earned a Ph.D. in music theory from the University of Pennsylvania in 2000.  His work has been published in a several of the leading journals of music theory and jazz scholarship.  He has taught courses in music theory and history at West Chester University of Pennsylvania, Eastern Illinois University, and the University of Virginia, and served as a post-doctoral fellow in music theory at the University of Chicago.  His current research explores the elusive rhythmic quality known as “swing” from a variety of disciplinary perspectives, including music theory and perception, critical race theory, and ethnographic social theory.  Future projects include a book on jazz rhythm and another on jazz and rock appropriations of the blues, focused broadly on the function of race in American popular music and culture.


“When Swing Doesn’t ‘Swing’: Competing Conceptions of an Early Twentieth Century Rhythmic Quality.”  Harvard University, Music in Time: Phenomenology, Perception, Performance — Conference in honor of Christopher Hasty. October 19, 2013.

“Some Perspectives on Race in Early New Orleans Jazz." Society for Music Theory, New Orleans, LA. November 2, 2012.

“Form and Meaning in Early New Orleans Jazz.”  Colloquium presentation, West Chester University of Pennsylvania. February 22, 2012.

“Swing as the Rhythmic Essence of Jazz: A History of Its Early Meanings.” American Musicological Society, San Francisco, CA. November 11, 2011.

“Multiparametric Complexity in Charlie Parker’s ‘Confirmation.’” Society for Music Theory, Indianapolis, IN. November 5, 2010.

“Participatory Discrepancies and the Perception of Beats in Jazz.” Society for Music Perception and Cognition, Indianapolis, IN.  August 3, 2009.

“Why Do Jazz Musicians Swing Their Eighth Notes?” Colloquium presentation, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC. October 17, 2008.

“Race and Rhythm: The Social Component of the Swing Groove.” Colloquium presentation, University of Victoria, Victoria, BC. October 20, 2008.

“The Power of Anacrusis: Engendered Feeling in Groove-Based Musics.” Society for Music Theory, Los Angeles, CA. November 3, 2006.

“Blue Notes and Blackness: The Formation of Identity in American Popular Musics.” Representations of Blackness: Performing Africa in the Diaspora and the Diaspora in Africa (11th Annual Africana Studies Conference of the Central Pennsylvania Consortium). April 1, 2005.

“Can You Feel It? Engendered Feeling and the Analysis of Rhythmic Groove.” Colloquium presentation, University of Chicago. April 2, 2004.

“Music Analysis and the Social Life of Jazz Recordings.” Jazz Symposium, Carolina Jazz Festival, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. March 1, 2002.

“Ethnic Rhythm in the Chains of Meter: Gunther Schuller and the Definition of Swing.” Society for Music Theory, Toronto. November 2, 2000.

“The Influence of Academic Institutions on the Aesthetics of Jazz Performance.” Society for Ethnomusicology, York University, Toronto. November 1, 1996.


Ph.D., Music Theory, University of Pennsylvania, May, 2000.

Dissertation:  “Jazz Analysis and the Production of Musical Community: A Situational Perspective” (Advisor:  Christopher F. Hasty)

B.A. (Music), cum laude, Amherst College, May, 1991.


“When Swing Doesn’t Swing: Competing Conceptions of an Early Twentieth-Century Rhythmic Quality,” in Music in Time: Phenomenology, Perception, Performance, ed. Suzannah Clark and Alexander Rehding (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2016), 257-277. 

“Multiparametric Complexity in Charlie Parker’s ‘Confirmation’,” in Musical Implications: Essays in Honor of Eugene Narmour, ed. Lawrence F. Bernstein and Alexander Rozin (Hillsdale, NY: Pendragon Press, 2013), 57-71.  

“Jazz,” in Oxford Bibliographies Online: Music. Ed. Bruce Gustafson. New York: Oxford University Press, 1 July 2011. www.oxfordbibliographiesonline.com/view/document/obo-9780199757824/obo-9780199757824-0039.xml

“Why Do Jazz Musicians Swing Their Eighth Notes?” Music Theory Spectrum 33/1 (2011): 3-26.

“Race and Rhythm: The Social Component of the Swing Groove.” Jazz Perspectives 4/3 (2010): 301-335.

“Variant Timekeeping Patterns and Their Effects in Jazz Drumming.” Music Theory Online 16/4 (2010). www.mtosmt.org/issues/mto.10.16.4/mto.10.16.4.butterfield.html

“Participatory Discrepancies and the Perception of Beats in Jazz.” Music Perception 27/3 (2010): 157-175.

“The Power of Anacrusis: Engendered Feeling in Groove-Based Musics,” Music Theory Online 12.4 (December 2006). www.mtosmt.org/issues/mto.06.12.4/mto.06.12.4.butterfield.html

“Response to Fernando Benadon,” Music Theory Online 13.3 (September 2007). www.mtosmt.org/issues/mto.07.13.3/mto.07.13.3.butterfield.html

“The Musical Object Revisited,” Music Analysis 21 (2002): 327-380.

“Music Analysis and the Social Life of Jazz Recordings,” Current Musicology 71-73 (2001-2002): 324-352.

“Review of Robert Hodson, Interaction, Improvisation, and Interplay in Jazz.  New York and London: Routledge, 2007.”  Jazz Research Journal 1/2  (2007): 239-249.

Course Information

CNX 120: The "I" of Music

MUS 100: Fundamentals

MUS 105: Jazz

MUS 106: History of the Blues

MUS 222: Theory 1

MUS 224: Musicianship 1

MUS 225: Musicianship 2

MUS 301: Pops and Jelly Roll

MUS 302: Bebop