Anna Yu Wang is a music theorist and ethnographer concerned with what it means—and what it takes—to listen across lines of difference. Her research brings music analysis, field research, and examination of historical and archival sources together to wrestle with aesthetic and ideological questions confronting music studies in a global context.
Her current book project analyzes musical sounds and listener testimonies from 黄梅戏 Huangmei opera and 歌仔戲 Taiwanese opera communities to propose that experiencing the musicality behind these tonal, metric, and formal structures is none other than to learn to adopt local (and at times, paradoxical) habits of worldmaking. In this and other work, Yu Wang reflects on the limitations of canonized analytical and epistemic paradigms in Anglo-American music theory, including its bias towards ocular-centrism and categorical precision. She is interested in charting a novel methodology for a global-facing music theory that would emulate rather than stabilize the creative tensions inherent in its objects of study.
Yu Wang is committed to the ethical inclusion of diverse voices and identities in music studies. Recent and ongoing collaborative projects in this spirit include the music theory pedagogy resource Engaging Students 8: Beyond Western Musicalities (winner of the Society for Music Theory’s Outstanding Multi-Author Publication Award); “Music Theory and Ethnomusicology: Towards Methodological Synergy,” a panel co-organized with the SMT Committee on Race and Ethnicity and the SEM Special Interest Group for Music Analysis on how methodological sharing across disciplines can facilitate culturally sensitive research; and Music Theory in the Plural, an open-source and searchable global forum for music theoretical source materials from languages and communities that have historically been underrepresented in Western academia.
Yu Wang served as co-chair of the SMT Analysis of World Musics Interest Group between 2017 and 2023 and is Associate Editor of the music pedagogy journal Engaging Students. Before coming to Princeton, she taught at the Longy School of Music of Bard College, where she was involved in creating a new, six-semester undergraduate music theory curriculum promoting cross-cultural literacy. She continues to consult for peer institutions and innovate globally conscious practices for music theory pedagogy—a model syllabus, published by the Society for Music Theory, is accessible here. Yu Wang holds a Ph.D. in music theory from Harvard University and a B.Mus in Piano Performance and Music Theory and Analysis from McGill University.