Brad Osborn

School of Music - Music
Associate Professor
Primary office:
Murphy Hall, 332


Brad Osborn is Associate Professor of Music Theory and affiliated faculty in American Studies at the University of Kansas.

He is 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 popular and 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 has authored three textbooks. Interpreting Music Video (Routledge, 2021) introduces students to the musical, visual, and sociological aspects of popular and viral music videos from 1981 to the present. Brad is, along with Larry Starr and Christopher Waterman, co-author of the 6th edition of the widely adopted American Popular Music (Oxford, 2021). Currently, a music-theory textbook provisionally titled Popular Music Theory is under contract with Oxford University Press (anticipated publication: late 2023/early 2024).

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.

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 four records: By the Lights of Gomorrah (2015); Agape (2017); Dark Machine (2018); and a self-titled 2020 EP (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.


Teaching Interests

  • Music theory
  • Popular music and music videos
  • Graduate studies

Research Interests

  • Radiohead
  • Drumming
  • Popular music
  • Rhythm and meter
  • Music videos

Selected Publications

Osborn, B., & Myers, T. (2020). Definitions of Rock Music and Stylistic Overlaps. [Book Chapters]. In A. Moore (Ed.), Bloomsbury Guide to Rock Music Research.
Osborn, B. (2020). The Swerve and the Flow: Music Video’s Relationship to    Dance. [Journal Articles]. Perspectives of New Music, 57(1/2), 211–221.
Osborn, B., & Blake, D. K. (2019). “Triangulating Timbre in Sigur Rós’s Iceland” [Book Chapters]. In T. Mitchell & N. Dibben (Eds.), *Sounds Icelandic* (Equinox Press).
Osborn, B. (2018). Review of Hearing Harmony: Toward a Tonal Theory for the Rock Era, by Christopher Doll [Book Reviews Review of Hearing Harmony: Toward a Tonal Theory for the Rock Era, by Christopher Doll]. Samples. Published.
Osborn, B. (2018). Terminally Climactic Forms [Other]. In Bloomsbury Encyclopedia  of Popular Music of the World.
Osborn, B. (2018). Pop-Rock Pedagogy: Composition, Performance, Transcription, and Analysis in the Undergraduate Theory Core [Book Chapters]. In R. Lumsden (Ed.), The Norton Guide to Teaching Music Theory. W.W. Norton.
Osborn, B. (2018). Review of Music Theory Remixed, by Kevin Holm-Hudson [Book Reviews Review of Music Theory Remixed, by Kevin Holm-Hudson]. Journal of Music Theory Pedagogy. Published.
Osborn, B., & Osborn, K. (2018). The Production of Timbre: Analyzing the Sonic Signatures of Tool’s Ænima (1996) [Book Chapters]. In C. Scotto (Ed.), The Routledge Companion to Popular Music Analysis: Expanding Approaches. Routledge.
Osborn, B. (2018). Through-Composed Forms [Other]. In Bloomsbury Encyclopedia of Popular Music of the World.
Osborn, B. (2017). “Rock Harmony Reconsidered: Tonal, Modal, and Contrapuntal Voice-Leading in Radiohead” [Journal Articles]. Music Analysis. Published.
Osborn, B. (2016). Everything in its Right Place: Analyzing Radiohead [Books]. Oxford University Press.
Osborn, B., Azevedo, C., Fuller, C., Guerrero, J., & Kaler, M. (2015). P.J. Harvey’s “The Words that Maketh Murder” [Book Chapters]. In A. Moore, R. V. Appen, A. Doehring, & D. Helms (Eds.), Song Interpretation in 21st-Century Pop Music. Ashgate Press.
Osborn, B. (2014). “Kid Algebra: Radiohead’s Euclidean and Maximally Even Rhythms” [Journal Articles]. Perspectives of New Music, 52(1).
Osborn, B. (2014). “Brad Osborn Responds” (to a letter to the editor RE: my article in the same journal a year ago) [Journal Articles]. Music Theory Spectrum, 36(1).
(2013). Analyzing the Music of Living Composers (and Others) (B. Osborn, J. Boss, T. Pack, & S. Rodgers, Eds.) [Books]. Cambridge Scholars Press.
Osborn, B. (2013). Hearing Heima: Ecological Approaches to Meaning in Three Icelandic Music Videos [Book Chapters]. In J. Boss, B. Osborn, T. Pack, & S. Rodgers (Eds.), Analyzing the Music of Living Composers (and Others). Cambridge Scholars Press.
Osborn, B. (2013). Subverting the Verse/Chorus Paradigm: Terminally Climactic Forms in Recent Rock Music [Journal Articles]. Music Theory Spectrum, 35(1).
Osborn, B. (2011). A Pragmatic Deleuzo-Guattarian Musicology in special issue “Deleuze et la musique” [Journal Articles]. Filigrane: Musique, Esthétique, Sciences, Société, 13.
Osborn, B. (2011). Understanding Through-Composition in Post-Rock, Math-Metal, and other Post-Millennial Rock Genres [Journal Articles]. Music Theory Online, 17(3).
Osborn, B. (2010). Beats that Commute: Algebraic and Kinesthetic Models for Math Rock Grooves [Journal Articles]. Gamut, 3(1).
Osborn, B. (accepted/in press). Laurie Anderson’s “O Superman (for Massenet)” [Book Chapters]. In B. Ravenscroft (Ed.), Analytical Essays on Music by Women Composers, Vol. 4. Oxford University Press.

Selected Presentations

Osborn, B. (11/30/2019). Formal Functions and Rotations in Top-40 EDM. Society for Music Theory National Meeting. Columbus, OH
Osborn, B. (4/30/2019). Popular Music in the Post-MTV Era. University of Utah
Osborn, B. (10/1/2018 - 10/31/2018). An Experiential Exploration of Scandinavian Black Metal. Haunting Humanities. Abe & Jake's Landing.
Osborn, B. (9/30/2017). Who Grooves to What?: Differences in Guitarists' and Drummers' Metric Entrainment. University of British Colombia Rhythm Colloquium. Vancouver, CA
Osborn, B. (6/30/2017). 1991 and all that Grunge. International Association for the Study of Popular Music (IASPM). Kassel, Germany
Osborn, B. T. (10/31/2016). Enhancing Student Learning through Innovative Response. International Society for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (ISSoTL). Los Angeles, CA
Osborn, B. (11/18/2015 - 11/18/2015). Music Videos as Music Theory: Teaching MTV's Buzz Clips. Ann Arbor Symposium IV: Teaching and Learning Popular Music. University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI
Osborn, B. (10/12/2011 - 10/15/2011). The Smooth and the Striated: What Deleuze's Philosophy of Time Can Teach Us About Minimal Music. Third International Conference on Music and MInimalism. Katholieke Universiteit, Leuven, Belgium
Osborn, B. (9/2/2009 - 9/6/2009). Perceptible Processes: Arch Form and Multiple Downbeats in Reich's Music for Eighteen Musicians. Second International Conference on Music and Minimalism. University of Missouri, Kansas City, MO
Osborn, B. (9/27/2008 - 9/28/2008). Coheed and Cambria's Terminally-Climactic Song Forms as Tonal Dramatization of Violent Action in The Amory Wars. Pacific Northwest Music Graduate Student's Conference. University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada
Osborn, B. (3/7/2008 - 3/9/2008). Juxtaposing Score and Recording in Scelsi's Quattro Pezzi Using Frequency Deviation Value and Spectral Analysis. Annual Meeting of the West Coast Conference of Music Theory and Analysis. University of Washington, Seattle, WA
Osborn, B. (2/22/2007 - 2/24/2007). Multi-Level Concept Mapping of Quotation in Berio's Sinfonia. Music and the Written Word Symposium. Indiana University, Bloomington, IN

School of Music Calendar
Music students present hundreds of public concerts every year
Students perform in KU choirs, concert bands, pep bands, ensembles, symphony orchestra, and jazz combos
The school owns one of the greatest jazz record collections in the world
KU Wind Ensemble performed the world premiere of the symphony "In the Shadow of No Towers" at Carnegie Hall
One of 34 U.S. public institutions in the prestigious Association of American Universities
44 nationally ranked graduate programs.
—U.S. News & World Report
Top 50 nationwide for size of library collection.