Jason Yust

Music Theory and Mathematics

I’m a music theorist and Associate Professor of Music Theory at the Boston University School of Music. My research applies mathematics to topics in music theory, music analysis, and music cognition, and I’m interested in how theorists, composers, and listeners conceptualize harmonic and rhythmic spaces and structures.


My articles and book chapters deal with applications of mathematics to music analysis, theories of harmonic spaces, musical rhythm, eighteenth-century form, musical structure, and other topics. Please find preprints of articles and chapters, as well as link to published versions, below. I've also written a book on musical structure which is available from Oxford University Press. You can also find powerpoints or pdfs of all of my conference presentations and public lectures below.

Steve Reich's Rhythmic Style

This article published in the Journal of Music Theory demonstrates a method of generating and interpreting a rhythmic spectrum from a cyclic rhythm, which describes the rhythm in terms of its implicit periodicities. It applies this method to a description of Steve Reich's development of a rhythmic style from his phase pieces of the 1970s to the Clapping Music rhythm and the canon-based pieces of the 1980s and 1990s. The preprint available here includes an additional section on the golden ratio and Tehillim, which was cut from the published version.

Read the article