Kristin Taavola

Kristin Taavola

Associate Professor, Music Theory

What I do

Kristin Taavola, Chair of Music Theory at Lamont, holds a Ph.D. in Music Theory from the Eastman School of Music.


French music, harmony, modes, Music Theory

Professional Biography

Prof. Taavola has worked with diverse groups of students at the Eastman School of Music, the University of Colorado--Boulder, Sarah Lawrence College, and Cornell University, and now the Lamont School of Music. Teaching duties have ranged from directing the Balinese gamelan at SLC to teaching graduate composers at Cornell. She has also tutored SAT, ACT, and GRE for Advantage Testing in New York City.

Prof. Taavola began her musical studies as a flutist. At the University of Iowa, she studied with Betty Bang Mather and Roger Mather, in a program that combined study of "the physics of the flute" with traditional and 20th-century repertoire. As an undergraduate research assistant, Prof. Taavola edited articles, including topics such as French Baroque Dance music, embouchure and breath technique, and holistic techniques for learning music. Later, she published an article on integrated learning techniques for performance.

She teaches undergraduate and graduate harmony and analysis courses, including seminars in French music and post-tonal music. Common Curriculum courses include the ASEM “Music and Spirituality,” and most recently, “Methods of Mastery,” a course that examines how musicians, athletes, writers, performers attain their goals.


  • Ph.D., Music Theory, University of Rochester, Eastman School of Music, 2002

Professional Affiliations

  • National Flute Association
  • Pi Kappa Lambda
  • Rocky Mountain Society for Music Theory
  • Society for Music Theory


Her current research engages French harmony at the fin-de-siècle. Current projects include a book on Debussy’s Syrinx for flute, as well as an article on variation form in France. Earlier scholarly work engages Asian models of musical time and modal processes, including articles on Zen and twentieth-century flute music, Balinese gamelan music, and the five-note compositions of Béla Bartók, and modal and tonal harmonies in the work of Erik Satie. She also has a strong interest in traditional theoretic topics, including set theory. She co-authored a Journal of Music Theory article on segmentation in music, as well as another article on "shape" in abstract sets.