Malachai Bandy

Assistant Professor of Music; Music History
  • Expertise


    A native of Los Angeles, Bandy has amassed a professional performance record on some twenty instruments spanning over 800 years of music history. He completed his Ph.D. in historical musicology as a Provost Fellow and Oakley Endowed Fellow at the University of Southern California’s Thornton School of Music, with the dissertation, “Number, Structure, and Mathematical Theology in Dieterich Buxtehude’s Basso Ostinato Psalm Settings” (2022). Before pursuing doctoral studies at USC, Bandy graduated cum laude with Distinction in Research and Creative Work from Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music with degrees in double bass and music history. His current scholarly projects concern musical expressions of occult philosophy and number symbolism in the North-German Baroque, as well as viola da gamba technique, repertoire and iconography. He has presented his work at national and international conferences, including annual meetings of the American Musicological Society, the Society for Seventeenth-Century Music, the Society for Christian Scholarship in Music and the International Society for the History of Rhetoric, and at special-topics conferences handling Esotericism in Music (Nazareth College, 2020) and Music and Visual Culture in Renaissance Italy (University of Sheffield, UK, 2019). In 2019 he received both the Society for Seventeenth-Century Music’s Irene Alm Memorial Prize and the AMS Pacific Southwest Chapter’s Ingolf Dahl Award in Musicology.

    A sought-after live and studio musician in the greater Los Angeles area, Bandy enjoys a vibrant performing career on a multitude of historical instruments, primarily the viola da gamba, violone and Renaissance double-reeds. He has performed in recent years with American and European ensembles including The Orpheon Consort, Ars Lyrica Houston, Voices of Music, Queens Baroque, and Bach Collegium San Diego, with local solo and ensemble appearances with Ciaramella, Tesserae Baroque, Musica Angelica, and the Los Angeles Opera and Master Chorale. As a recording artist, Bandy is a featured soloist in Bear McCreary’s scores to the films 10 Cloverfield Lane (yaylı tanbur) and Welcome Home (viol), the television shows Outlander (viol), The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power (yaylı tanbur, viol), Foundation (viol), The Witcher (viol, nyckelharpa), and the Emmy-winning title theme for DaVinci's Demons (viol), as well as various video games including League of Legends (nyckelharpa, viol), Star Wars: Tales from the Galaxy’s Edge (various), God of War (nyckelharpa) and others.

    As an enthusiastic educator of youth, conservatory and college students, and adult amateurs alike, Bandy maintains a private viol studio, regularly conducts meetings for the Southern California Recorder Society and Orange County Recorder Society and serves on rotational faculty for the San Francisco Early Music Society’s summer Medieval-Renaissance and Recorder workshops. He is a proud board member of SoCal Viols, Southern California’s new chapter of the Viola da Gamba Society of America (VdGSA), whom he has represented as faculty at regional viol workshops including Viols West (San Luis Obispo, CA) and ViolSphere 2 (Oracle, AZ).

    Research Interests

    • Western Esotericism and 17th-c. Occult Philosophy
    • Historical Constructs of Musical Meaning and Symbol
    • LGBTQIA+ Identities and Western Musical Expression
    • Trans* Identities and Bodies in 17th-c. Alchemical Practice
    • Early Modern Music and Western Visual Culture
    • 17th-c. Rosicrucianism and Mystical Theology
    • Historical-Mathematical Models of Music
    • Music and Early Modern Sexuality

    Areas of Expertise

    • Viola da gamba Technique, History, and Iconography
    • Historical Performance Practice
    • 17th-c. North-German Music and Esotericism
    • Musical Symbolism and Pythagoreanism
    • Baroque Musical Rhetoric
    • Viol Consort Music and Culture
  • Work



    Bandy, Malachai Komanoff. “‘Im Himmel Und Auf Erden’: Geometry, Alchemy, and Rosicrucian Symbol in Buxtehude’s Herr, Wenn Ich Nur Dich Hab’ (BuxWV 38).” In Explorations in Music and Esotericism, edited by Marjorie Roth and Leonard George, 255–75. University of Rochester Press, Boydell & Brewer, 2023.

    Bandy, Malachai Komanoff. “‘With the base Viall placed between my Thighes’: musical instruments and sexual subtext in Titian’s Venus with musician series.” Early Music 51, no. 1 (2023): 39–52,

    CD Liner Notes

    Frank Zappa, 200 Motels 50th Anniversary Edition; Co-Authored with Ruth Underwood (Zappa Records and MGM; 2021 Remaster)

    Articles for DecamerONline, USC Levan Institute for the Humanities, “Books, Writing, and Community” Working Group

    Day 5: “Castor, Pollux, and Musicological Rabbit-Holes (or, ‘Shrüb-dingers Ribbit-Hell’)”

    Day 6: [“…and rip up the books”] Response to Veronica Peselmann’s “Leafing through Books: Challenges of Working on Texts in the Time of COVID-19”

    As Recording Artist

    As Recording Producer

  • Education


    Ph.D. Historical Musicology, University of Southern California, Thornton School of Music (2022)

    Dissertation: “Number, Structure, and Mathematical Theology in Dieterich Buxtehude’s Basso Ostinato Psalm Settings”

    B.Mus. Double Bass Performance, Rice University Shepherd School of Music (2013)

    B.Mus. Music History, Rice University Shepherd School of Music, cum laude, with Distinction in Research and Creative Work (2013)

    Viola da gamba, Organology Studies with Prof. José Vázquez (Austria, Spain, Switzerland) (2013-2019, intermittent)

    Other Principal Teachers: Paul Ellison (double bass), Drs. Adam and Rotem Gilbert (Renaissance winds)

    Recent Courses Taught

    • Secrecy and Sorcery, Sung: Music and Rejected Knowledge
    • Engaging Music
    • Listening to Queer Voices: Radical Identities, Performance, and Transgression in Music, from Hildegard to House
    • Sound and Symbol: Case Studies in Musical Meaning from Machaut to Bach
  • Awards & Honors

    Awards & Honors

    Outstanding Doctoral Graduate Award (USC Thornton School of Music, 2022)

    Irene Alm Memorial Prize (The Society for Seventeenth-Century Music, 2019)

    for “Squaring the Circle: Structure, Proportion, and Divine Geometry in Buxtehude’s Herr, wenn ich nur Dich hab’, BuxWV 38”

    Ingolf Dahl Award in Musicology (AMS Pacific Southwest Chapter, 2019)

    for “‘Make of the Man and Woman a Circle’: Geometry, Alchemy, and Compositional Unio mystica in Buxtehude’s Settings of Psalm 42 and 73”

    Presser Foundation Graduate Award (2016)

    Wagoner Fellowship for Study Abroad (Rice University, 2013)

    Friends of the Fondren Library Research Award (Rice University, 2010)