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.
- Music theory
- Popular music
- Graduate studies
- Popular music
- Rhythm and meter
- Music videos