C. Joti Rockwell

Associate Professor of Music; Music Theory; Chair of Music
  • Expertise


    In his scholarship, Joti Rockwell explores the possibilities afforded by musical sound and performance. Much of his research thus far has involved historical forms of American popular music, and he continues to pursue questions about how the specifics of musical organization connect to broader notions of genre, meaning and expression.

    He is also interested in mathematical models of music, particularly with regard to voice-leading and rhythm. As a performer on mandolin and guitar, he works primarily in the realms of bluegrass and roots music, and he has additional interests in contemporary concert music and Balinese gamelan.

    Research Interests

    • Music theory and analysis
    • 20th-century American popular music
    • Mathematical models of music

    Areas of Expertise

    • Music theory
    • Bluegrass and old-time music
    • Mathematics and music
    • American popular music
    • Theories of rhythm
  • Work


    “What is Bluegrass Anyway? Category Formation, Debate, and the Framing of Musical Genre.” Popular Music 31, no. 3 (October 2012): 363-381.

    "Time on the Crooked Road: Isochrony, Meter, and Disruption in Old-Time Country and Bluegrass Music," Ethnomusicology 55, no. 1 (2011): 55-76

    "Banjo Transformations and Bluegrass Rhythm," Journal of Music Theory 53, no. 1 (2009): 137-162

    Review, "Worlds of Sound: the Story of Smithsonian Folkways" and "The Never-Ending Revival: Rounder Records and the Folk Alliance," Journal of Popular Music Studies 21, no. 3 (2009): 310-315

    "Birdcage Flights: A Perspective on Inter-Cardinality Voice Leading," Music Theory Online 15, no. 5 (2009)

    Selected Performances

    Mandolinist as part of a concert at the Garth Newel Music Center in Hot Springs, VA, July 5, 2014

    Guitarist, mandolinist, banjoist, fiddler, and vocalist for a concert entitled “Trans-Atlantic Steel: Appalachian Strings and Zimbabwean Keys” combining Appalachian music with mbira music and Zimbabwean popular music; performed with Tony Perman at Grinnell College, October 6, 2012

    Guitarist in a trio with Richard Greene and Peter Feldmann, performing bluegrass and old-time music on the main stage at the Topanga Banjo Fiddle Contest and Folk Festival, May 15, 2010

    Mandolinist and banjoist in Friday Noon Concert, performing music by Scarlatti and two premieres by Karl Kohn, April 16, 2010

    Mandolinist at Ussachevsky Memorial Festival of electronic music, performing “Violin Phase” by Steve Reich, arranged for solo mandolin and computer, February 21, 2009

    Mandolin, voice, and bowed banjo at the Ussachevsky Memorial Festival of electronic music, performing "BorderRadioX" by Paul Elwood, March 29, 2008

  • Education


    University of Chicago

    Bachelor of Science
    Haverford College

    Recent Courses Taught

    • Listening to American Popular Music
    • Materials of Music
    • Music Theory I
    • Music Theory III
    • Critical Inquiry Seminar
  • Awards & Honors

    Awards & Honors

    Journal of Music Theory, David Kraehenbuehl Prize (for best article by a scholar untenured at time of submission), 2014

    Pomona College, Wig Distinguished Professor Award for Excellence in Teaching, 2012

    Pomona College; Wig Curriculum Development Grant for the design and construction of a monochord, 2008

    Mannes Institute for Advanced Studies in Music Theory; fellow, 2008

    Mellon 23; Grant for "Building Musical Intuitions," organized with Alfred Cramer (Pomona) and YouYoung Kang (Scripps), 2008

    Whiting; Dissertation-Year Fellowship, 2005-2006