Ph.D., Critical and Comparative Studies in Music
McIntire Department of Music
University of Virginia (2016)
M.A., Jazz History and Research
Rutgers University (2011)
B.A., Music, Psychology
Sunderman Conservatory of Music
Gettysburg College (2009)
Areas of Expertise
Film & Media Music
Music & Social Activism
Bibliography, Research, and Writing
Dr. Gretchen Carlson is a Lecturer of Music History and Culture, where she teaches
diverse courses on music in the United States of America, jazz history, contemporary
music, media music, and music research/bibliography. She has developed and teaches
original seminar courses on Duke Ellington, film composer John Williams, film music,
and jazz in American culture. Her interests and teaching areas also include world
music, music cognition, women in music, and culture studies.
Dr. Carlson specializes in jazz, American popular music, and film music, focusing
on the music’s intersections with media, popular culture, and sociology, and examining
topics of agency, creativity, reception, and musical meaning. She has authored several
articles focusing on jazz and film, featured in the Journal of the Society for American Music and Jazz and Culture. Her recent book, Improvising the Score:Rethinking Modern Film Music Through Jazz (University Press of Mississippi, 2022) provides a vivid investigation of innovative collaborations
between renowned contemporary jazz artists and prominent independent filmmakers, exploring
how these integrative jazz-film productions challenge us to rethink the possibilities
of cinematic music production. Her current research interests include jazz’s collaborative
intersections with contemporary media, jazz and social activism, and historically
informed jazz performance practice. She has presented her research at both national
and international conferences, including annual meetings of the Society for American
Music, the American Musicological Society, the Jazz Education Network, and Rhythm
Dr. Carlson earned her Ph.D. in Critical and Comparative Studies in Music from the
McIntire Department of Music at the University of Virginia. She also holds a M.A.
in Jazz History and Research from Rutgers University, an undergraduate degrees in
music and psychology from Gettysburg College, where she graduated summa cum laude.
An active pianist, Carlson balances her research and teaching with solo and collaborative
performance and maintains a private piano studio.
In the Media:
- "Lights, Camera, Swing!" Jazz in the Movies: Carlson discusses her book, Improvising the Score, with Eugene Holley, Jr. of Publisher's
Weekly (June 2022).
- "Free Jazz in Film:" Carlson features as an invited panelist on "The Buzz" - a podcast
run by the Jazz Journalists Association (JJA). The 2-part podcast focuses on "free
jazz in film," featuring Carlson, jazz author/critic Kevin Whitehead, arts journalist
Don Palmer, and JJA president Howard Mandel. Part 1 was released February 1, 2023, and Part 2 on February 15, 2023.