Brad Osborn

School of Music - Music
Associate Professor
Primary office:
Murphy Hall
Room 332


Brad Osborn is Associate Professor of Music Theory and affiliated faculty in American Studies at the University of Kansas. His the author of the monograph Everything in its Right Place: Analyzing Radiohead (Oxford University Press, 2017). His book demonstrates that Radiohead’s music exhibits a musical Goldilocks zone, presenting the listener with myriad surprises while at the same time satisfying a number of expectations inherited from both rock music and Western classical music. This, more than any other feature of the band’s music, is what accounts for their unique balance of commercial success and critical appeal—perhaps matched only by The Beatles in the late 1960s.

Brad's other research on post-millennial rock music and music videos is published in top music-theoretical journals. He has been invited to speak at numerous international and national conferences, and to share his teaching and research through invited colloquia in conservatories and schools of music. His current book project—From the Buzz Bin: Decoding MTV’s Buzz Clips—is a systematic examination of the 288 music videos MTV promoted as “Buzz Clips” in the 1990s from the perspectives of music theory, gender studies, cinematography, and critical race studies.

An active leader in the pedagogy of music theory, he is a contributing author to the 3rd edition of The Musician's Guide to Theory and Analysis (W.W. Norton, 2015), a best-selling textbook for which he has filmed instructional videos to support the chapters. Brad’s essay on how to include popular music in the undergraduate theory curriculum also appears in The Norton Guide to Teaching Music Theory (W.W. Norton, 2017). His commitment to diversity and equity in the classroom is evidenced by a two-year term as a KU Diversity Scholars fellow.

Prior to joining the faculty at KU, Brad taught at Ohio University, DePauw University, and Rhodes College. He is active in the Society for Music Theory, having previously served on the Committee for the Status of Women and as the past Chair of the Popular Music Interest Group. Brad currently serves the society as Associate Editor of Music Theory Online, the most widely read music theory journal in the world.

Active as a rock multi-instrumentalist (drums, guitars, voice, keyboards), Brad writes and records music as the artist D'Archipelago—a "band" composed entirely of him overdubbing all of the vocal and instrumental tracks. D’Archipelago has released three records: By the Lights of Gomorrah (2015); Agape (2017); and Dark Machine (2018); all of which are available widely on streaming services. An avid outdoorsman, Brad enjoys adventuring in the Ozark Mountains (where he grew up), and is proud to count Iceland's southern coast, the Isle of Man, Smith Rock, and the Red River Gorge among his favorite backpacking and climbing destinations.


Ph.D., Music Theory, University of Washington

M.M., Music Theory, Florida State University

B.S., Music Education, Missouri State University

Teaching Interests

  • Music theory
  • Popular music
  • Graduate studies

Research Interests

  • Radiohead
  • Drumming
  • Popular music
  • Rhythm and meter
  • Music videos

Selected Publications

Osborn, B. & Myers, T. (in press). Definitions of Rock Music and Stylistic Overlaps. In A. Moore (Ed.), Bloomsbury Guide to Rock Music Research.

Osborn, B. (in press). Laurie Anderson’s “O Superman (for Massenet)” . In B. Ravenscroft (Ed.), Analytical Essays on Music by Women Composers, Vol. 4. Oxford University Press.

Osborn, B. (in press). The Swerve and the Flow: Music Video’s Relationship to Dance. Perspectives of New Music.

Osborn, B. & Blake, D. K. (2019). "Triangulating Timbre in Sigur Rós's Iceland" . In T. Mitchell & N. Dibben (Eds.), *Sounds Icelandic* (Equinox Press).

Osborn, B. (2018). Pop-Rock Pedagogy: Composition, Performance, Transcription, and Analysis in the Undergraduate Theory Core . In R. Lumsden (Ed.), The Norton Guide to Teaching Music Theory. W.W. Norton.

Osborn, B. (2018). Review of Hearing Harmony: Toward a Tonal Theory for the Rock Era, by Christopher Doll [Review of the book Hearing Harmony: Toward a Tonal Theory for the Rock Era, Christopher Doll]. Samples

Osborn, B. (2018). Review of Music Theory Remixed, by Kevin Holm-Hudson [Review of the book Music Theory Remixed, Kevin Holm-Hudson]. Journal of Music Theory Pedagogy

Osborn, B. (2018). Terminally Climactic Forms. Bloomsbury Encyclopedia of Popular Music of the World.

Osborn, B. & Osborn, K. (2018). The Production of Timbre: Analyzing the Sonic Signatures of Tool’s Ænima (1996) . In C. Scotto (Ed.), The Routledge Companion to Popular Music Analysis: Expanding Approaches. Routledge.

Osborn, B. (2018). Through-Composed Forms. Bloomsbury Encyclopedia of Popular Music of the World.

Osborn, B. (2017). "Rock Harmony Reconsidered: Tonal, Modal, and Contrapuntal Voice-Leading in Radiohead". Music Analysis. DOI:10.1111/musa.12085

Osborn, B. (2016). Everything in its Right Place: Analyzing Radiohead, Oxford University Press.

Osborn, B. Azevedo, C. Fuller, C. Guerrero, J. & Kaler, M. (2015). P.J. Harvey's 'The Words that Maketh Murder'. In A. Moore, R. V. Appen, A. Doehring, & D. Helms (Eds.), Song Interpretation in 21st-Century Pop Music. Ashgate Press.

Osborn, B. (2014). "Brad Osborn Responds" (to a letter to the editor RE: my article in the same journal a year ago) . Music Theory Spectrum, 36(1).

Osborn, B. (2014). "Kid Algebra: Radiohead's Euclidean and Maximally Even Rhythms". Perspectives of New Music, 52(1).

Osborn, B., Boss, J., Pack, T., & Rodgers, S. (Eds.). (2013). Analyzing the Music of Living Composers (and Others) (B. Osborn, J. Boss, T. Pack, & S. Rodgers, Eds.). Cambridge Scholars Press.

Osborn, B. (2013). Hearing Heima: Ecological Approaches to Meaning in Three Icelandic Music Videos. In J. Boss, B. Osborn, T. Pack, & S. Rodgers (Eds.), Analyzing the Music of Living Composers (and Others). Cambridge Scholars Press.

Osborn, B. (2013). Subverting the Verse/Chorus Paradigm: Terminally Climactic Forms in Recent Rock Music. Music Theory Spectrum, 35(1).

Osborn, B. (2011). A Pragmatic Deleuzo-Guattarian Musicology in special issue "Deleuze et la musique". Filigrane: Musique, Esthétique, Sciences, Société, 13( ).

Osborn, B. (2011). Understanding Through-Composition in Post-Rock, Math-Metal, and other Post-Millennial Rock Genres. Music Theory Online, 17(3).

Osborn, B. (2010). Beats that Commute: Algebraic and Kinesthetic Models for Math Rock Grooves. Gamut, 3( 1).

Selected Presentations

Osborn, B. . (01/15/2019 - 04/30/2019). Multimodal Approaches to the Analysis of Music Videos. Invited Colloquium at Utah State University. Logan, UT

Osborn, B. . (10/01/2018 - 10/31/2018). An Experiential Exploration of Scandinavian Black Metal. Haunting Humanities. Abe & Jake's Landing. Available Here

Osborn, B. . (01/15/2018 - 04/30/2018). “Cart-Horse-Cart: Putting Theory Before Composition (and then putting it back)”. Invited Keynote Presentation at Midwest Music Research Collective Conference. University of Kansas

Osborn, B. . (12/31/2017). Longing, and the Subdominant Tritone in Film and Television. Joint Meeting of the Musicological Societies of Australia and New Zealand. Auckland, NZ

Osborn, B. . (09/30/2017). Who Grooves to What?: Differences in Guitarists' and Drummers' Metric Entrainment. University of British Colombia Rhythm Colloquium. Vancouver, CA

Osborn, B. . (06/30/2017). 1991 and all that Grunge. International Association for the Study of Popular Music (IASPM). Kassel, Germany

Music students present hundreds of public concerts every year
Students perform in KU choirs, concert bands, pep bands, ensembles, symphony orchestra, and jazz combos
The school owns one of the greatest jazz record collections in the world
KU Wind Ensemble performed the world premiere of the symphony "In the Shadow of No Towers" at Carnegie Hall
One of 34 U.S. public institutions in the prestigious Association of American Universities
44 nationally ranked graduate programs.
—U.S. News & World Report
Top 50 nationwide for size of library collection.

KU School of Music