Johanna Frymoyer

Assistant Professor of Music Theory

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S516 O'Neill Hall
Notre Dame, IN 46556
+1 574-631-6674

Assistant Professor of Music Theory
Faculty Fellow at the Nanovic Institute for European Studies

Research Interests

Conventions and schemata, Topic theory, Embodied cognition, Modernism, Russian music


Johanna Frymoyer is an assistant professor of music theory whose research interests explore questions of musical meaning through the lenses of semiotics, narrative theory, and cognitive linguistics with emphasis on the music of Schoenberg and Stravinsky. She earned her Ph.D. and MFA in musicology from Princeton University and her B.M., majoring in violin and German studies, from Vanderbilt University.

Frymoyer’s research lies at the intersection of musicology and music theory, and her hermeneutic approach seeks to bridge cultural studies and works-centered analysis. Frymoyer’s current book project, tentatively titled Listening, Moving, Interpreting: Topic Theory and Modernism, explores the cognitive range of 18th-century topics (conventional gestures and signs such as dance rhythms, horn calls, etc.) in the early 20th century. Using themes from category learning, prototypicality effects, and embodied knowledge, the book investigates the aesthetic, intellectual, and cognitive conditions that contribute to continuities of topical meaning for listeners past and present. Her doctoral research refined the definition, stylistic constraints, analytic applications, and interpretation of musical texture in early 20th-century music. She has published in Music Theory SpectrumThe Cambridge Stravinsky Encyclopedia (eds. Edward Campbell and Peter O’Hagan), and The Routledge Handbook of Music Signification (eds. Esti Sheinberg and William Dougherty).

Frymoyer has presented her research at annual meetings of the Society for Music Theory and the American Musicological Society and internationally at the Institute for Russian Music Studies in Vipiteno, Italy (2018), the Medieval and Renaissance Music Conference held at the University of Maynooth (2018), the Biennial Conference on Nineteenth-Century Music held at the University of Southampton (2010), and Sound Moves: A Conference on Music and Dance at the University of Roehampton (2005). She has served on the Editorial Board of Music Theory Online and the Executive Board of Music Theory Midwest. Prior to joining Notre Dame, Frymoyer held appointments at New York University, Indiana University, and the University of Denver.