New Music Theory Faculty Member Hired

MSU College of Music welcomes Cara Stroud and her expertise in new music.

Cara Stroud, MSU assistant professor of music theory, grew up in a home near Dallas where music was always playing. “It was all around me – on the radio, the stereo, everywhere,” she says. “And I loved it.”

Stroud’s parents instilled in her that love of music at a very early age, she says, which led her to play piano and cello as a child, and eventually to performing professionally on the cello early in her career.

She was fascinated that music spoke to her personally and wondered what it was that fascinated her so. To make sense of her attraction to music, she set out to learn more about its components by taking composition lessons in high school and experimenting with colorful timbres and harmonies.

“That’s what did it,” she says. Delving into the color and timbre of music opened up the world to me, she explains, in a new way. And she couldn’t wait to learn more.

Staying close to home, she pursued her bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in music theory in Denton at the University of North Texas where she became interested in 20th- and 21st-century music.

Stroud attended Florida State University to earn her Ph.D. in music theory, and recently finished her dissertation, which focused on the music of Libby Larson, Alfred Schnittke and John Corigliano.  She was an instructor at Oklahoma State University, Florida State University and University of North Texas having taught music theory, aural skills and post-tonal analysis.

“The theory area is very happy to have Cara Stroud join our team,” says Michael Callahan, associate professor and chair of the music theory area. “She is a skilled and dedicated teacher and a promising scholar. Cara's expertise in music of the 20th and 21st centuries opens up many possibilities for our students through new course offerings.” 

Her passion and interest in new music is just one of the things Stroud brings to Michigan State University as she starts teaching in January. “I want to help music students gain a deeper understanding of how music works,” Stroud says. “It’s my goal as a teacher.”

“And since 21st-century music is the music of our time, I want students to be able to enjoy it as much as they enjoy music from the classical period and popular music. I don’t want them to be stuck without tools for appreciating contemporary music.”

Stroud also brings her family with her to Michigan, which includes five-month old twin sons and her husband, Christopher.

About Cara Stroud

Prior to her appointment as assistant professor of music theory at MSU, Cara Stroud was a lecturer in music theory at Oklahoma State University, where she taught  freshman music theory and aural skills in addition to a course in twentieth-century music. She earned her Ph.D. in Music Theory at Florida State University, with a dissertation focusing on narrative strategies in music by Alfred Schnittke, Libby Larsen, and John Corigliano. Stroud has presented her research at the Society for Music Theory, Society for American Music, Texas Society for Music Theory, Music Theory Southeast, GAMuT, and FSU Music Theory Forum conferences. She also studies form and harmony in recent Top-40 pop music and plays the cello. 

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