Karen Desmond (Ph.D. 2009, New York University) is an Assistant Professor of Music at Brandeis University, and Chair of the Graduate Program in Musicology. She was a Visiting Assistant Professor of Music at Harvard University in 2018. Previously she held postdoctoral research positions at the Schulich School of Music at McGill University (Banting Fellow, 2014-16), and the University of Cologne (2012-13), and taught at University College Cork, Ireland (Lecturer in Musicology, 2011-13). Her monograph Music and the moderni, 1300-1350: The ars nova in Theory and Practice (Cambridge University Press, August 2018) challenges prevailing accounts of the ars nova. Awards include an NEH Research Fellowship, an SSHRC Banting Fellowship, and a Provost’s Innovation Grant from Brandeis University. She has begun work on her second monograph, tentatively titled Torso: Understanding the Polyphony of Late Medieval England from its fragmentary remains. Other completed projects include her translation of Lambert’s Ars musica, edited by Christian Meyer (Ashgate, 2015), The Montpellier Codex: The Final Fascicle, a collection of essays co-edited with Catherine Bradley (The Boydell Press, 2018), and a website of late medieval motets digitally encoded in mensural notation, available at http://www.measuringpolyphony.org.

Desmond co-organized a 2-day international conference on the Montpellier Codex, with Catherine Bradley (University of Oslo) and Elizabeth Eva Leach (University of Oxford), which took place at St. Hugh’s College, Oxford, on March 20-21, 2014. With Anna Zayaruznaya of Yale University, she co-organized an international symposium on Philippe de Vitry, which took place at Yale on November 6-7, 2015.

Research and Teaching Interests

  • Medieval and Renaissance music and theory;
  • The intellectual milieu of fourteenth-century musicians and theorists including Jean des Murs, Philippe de Vitry, Jacobus de Montibus, and Guillaume de Machaut;
  • Manuscripts, palaeography, notation, and digital editions;
  • Digital musicology;
  • Schubert’s songs;
  • Popular Music.