Janet Bourne
Position Assistant Professor, Music Theory Program, Director of Undergraduate Studies
Office Location

Music Building 1121

On-site Hours

By appointment


Music Theory


Janet Bourne is interested in who is listening and, from a cognitive perspective, why listeners find certain interpretations of music intuitive. She combines traditional music-theoretic tools with concepts and methodologies from cognitive science and cognitive linguistics. She has a co-authored article with Robert Gjerdingen “Schema Theory as a Construction Grammar” and a single authored article “Perceiving Irony in Music: The Problem in Beethoven’s String Quartets” both published in Music Theory Online. To better understand why some listeners perceive these quartets as ironic in this article, she combines empirical research on ironic language and analogy with sonata theory, formal function, and schema theory. Her chapter on music cognition and theory pedagogy will appear in the Norton Guide to Teaching Music Theory and other works appear in Frontiers in Neuroscience and Music in the Social and Behavioral Sciences. She has presented research on music, mostly of the long eighteenth century and film music, at regional, national and international conferences. Her current book project uses the cognitive process of analogy as a framework for analyzing music from the perspective of listeners and their experiences. Dr. Bourne received a PhD in music theory and cognition from Northwestern University, where she won the Dorothy Payne award for best student paper from the Music Theory Society of the Mid-Atlantic. Before arriving at U.C. Santa Barbara, she was a Mellon postdoctoral fellow at Bates College.


UCSB Music Cognition Lab: ucsbmusiccognitionlab.weebly.com