SMND Spring 2022 Calvin M. Bower Lecture: "In Pieces: Composing and Analyzing the Late Medieval Alleluya"


Location: 306 O'Neill Hall

K Desmond Opt

Karen Desmond is Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Music at Brandeis University. Her research centres on the aesthetics, theories, and technologies that underpinned medieval composition. She has taught and/or held postdoctoral fellowships at University College Cork, the University of Cologne, Harvard University, McGill University, and the University of Cambridge. Her monograph Music and the moderni, 1300-1350: The ars nova in Theory and Practice (Cambridge University Press, 2018), which challenges prevailing accounts of the fourteenth-century ars nova, won the the 2019 Lewis Lockwood Award for an “outstanding work of musicological scholarship (early stages),” from the AMS. Previous awards and funding for her research include an NEH Research Fellowship (2014), an SSHRC Banting Fellowship (2014-16), and an NEH Digital Humanities Advancement Grant (2019-20). She was recently awarded a second NEH Research Fellowship (2022) for her monograph project on the music fragments at Worcester cathedral, and another monograph on the late medieval Alleluya is under review at Cambridge University Press. Other large projects include her translation of Lambert’s Ars musica, edited by Christian Meyer (Ashgate, 2015) and The Montpellier Codex: The Final Fascicle, an essay collection co-edited with Catherine Bradley (The Boydell Press, 2018), two co-edited special journal issues, one on the astronomer and music theorist Jean des Murs, and one on the composer Philippe de Vitry, and a long article on the thirteenth-century English composer W. de Wicumbe. She’s also active as a digital musicologist, and is Principal Investigator of the Measuring Polyphony project - a website of late medieval motets digitally encoded in mensural notation, and a software tool for making transcriptions and editions in mensural notation (

The poster for this event can be viewed here.