Chelsea Burns is an Assistant Professor of Music Theory at the University of Texas at Austin, and affiliate faculty at the Lozano Long Institute for Latin American Studies. She received her Ph.D. in the theory and history of music from the University of Chicago, and prior to arriving
at the University of Texas, she was on faculty at the Eastman School of Music and Harvard University. Her research interests include Latin American modernist concert music as well as American popular musics, with a focus on bluegrass and country. She is especially interested in the ways that contexts—economic, political, material—affect analytical interpretation. Her research suggests that such contextual understanding shapes analysis in critical ways, at times undermining or reversing prevailing musical interpretations. Her work touches on issues of race, postcoloniality, instrumental technologies, and expressions of privilege and class, among others.
Professor Burns has presented papers at national conferences of the Society for Music Theory, American Musicological Society, Society for American Music, Society for Ethnomusicology, US chapter of the International Association for the Study of Popular Music, and Latin American Studies Association. Recent and forthcoming publications address issues of exoticism and modernism in relation to Brazilian indigeneity, the pedal steel guitar in 1960s country music, genre and race in 1970s country music, pedagogical considerations for the undergraduate music- theory core curriculum, and the sound and shaping pressures of current bluegrass music. She is also an avid bluegrass player, and enjoys being part of the Austin bluegrass scene.