Tracy McMullen

Associate Professor of Music

Teaching this semester

AFRS 1592/GSWS 1592/MUS 1292. Issues in Hip-Hop I

Traces the history of hip-hop culture (with a focus on rap music) from its beginnings in the Caribbean to its transformation into a global phenomenon by the early 1990s. Explores constructions of race, gender, class, and sexuality in hip-hop’s production, promotion, and consumption, as well as the ways in which changing media technology and corporate consolidation influenced the music. Artists/bands investigated include Grandmaster Flash, Run-D.M.C., Public Enemy, De La Soul, Queen Latifah, N.W.A., MC Lyte, Snoop Doggy Dogg, and Dr. Dre.

AFRS 3151/MUS 3151. Advanced Concepts in Music and Culture: African American Music

Examines music as a cultural “actor” within the context of American history. Central concerns may include representations of racialized identity via music; interpretation and reception of musical genres; “freedom” and constraint in musical performance; and issues of appropriation, musical borrowing, essentialism, and tradition. Authors may include Ralph Ellison, Amiri Baraka, Eileen Southern, and Sylvia Wynter. Artists and genres may include Kendrick Lamar, Nina Simone, John Coltrane, gospel, jazz, and hip hop. No music theory knowledge necessary.

Tracy McMullen is a saxophonist, composer, and Associate Professor of American Vernacular Music at Bowdoin College. Her courses examine jazz and popular music within the context of American culture, including “Issues in Hip Hop,” “Gender, Sexuality, and Popular Music,” “Rebel Yell: Punk Music,” and “Music in Everyday Life.” Professor McMullen’s articles have appeared in the peer-reviewed Journal of Jazz Studies, Journal of Popular Music Studies, Current Musicology, and Critical Studies in Improvisation/Études Critiques en Improvisation and many edited volumes, including Big Ears: Listening for Gender in Jazz Studies; Negotiated Moments: Improvisation, Sound and Subjectivity; People Get Ready: The Future of Jazz is Now; The Encyclopedia of African American Music; The Oxford Handbook of Critical Improvisation Studies; and the Grove Dictionary of American Music. Her forthcoming manuscript, Haunthenticity: Musical Replay and the Fear of the Real (Wesleyan University Press) considers the growth of live musical re-enactment in relation to the decline of the modern liberal subject. Her second major project investigates improvisation as an alternative model for negotiating subjectivity, suggesting a theorization of an improvisative, rather than a performative.

As a jazz/experimental saxophonist and composer, she has performed or recorded with David Borgo, George Lewis, Anthony Davis, Dana Reason, Mark Dresser, Pauline Oliveros, and many others and can be heard on the Cadence, Parma, and Plutonium record labels.


  • B.A., Stanford
  • M.M., M.A., University of North Texas
  • Ph.D., University of California, San Diego


Peer-reviewed Articles

2016 “Approaching the Jazz Past: MOPDtK’s Blue and Jason Moran’s ‘In My Mind: Monk at Town Hall, 1959.’” The Journal of Jazz Studies, Vol. 11 (2) (Fall 2016).

2014 “‘Bring It On Home’: Robert Plant, Janis Joplin, and the Myth of Origin.” The Journal of Popular Music Studies, Vol. 26 (2) (June 2014).

2010 “Subject, Object, Music: John Cage, Pauline Oliveros, and Eastern (Western) Philosophy in Music.” Critical Studies in Improvisation/Études Critiques en Improvisation, Vol. 6 (2) (December 2010).

2006 “Corpo-Realities: Keepin’ it Real in ‘Music and Embodiment’ Scholarship.” Current Musicology, No. 82 (Fall 2006), 61-80.

Book Chapters

2016 “Improvisation Within a Scene of Constraint: Judith Butler interviewed by Tracy McMullen” in Negotiated Moments: Improvisation, Sound and Subjectivity, edited by Gillian Siddal and Ellen Waterman, p. 21-36. Duke University Press.

2014 “The Improvisative,” in The Oxford Handbook of Critical Improvisation Studies, edited by George Lewis and Ben Piekut. Oxford University Press.

2013 “People, Don’t Get Ready: Improvisation, Democracy, and Hope” in People Get Ready: The Future of Jazz in Now, edited by Ajay Heble and Robert Wallace. Duke University Press.

2008 “Identity for Sale: Glenn Miller, Wynton Marsalis and Cultural Replay in Music.” In Big Ears: Listening for Gender in Jazz Studies, edited by Nichole Rustin and Sherrie Tucker. Duke University Press.

Book Reviews

2016 Sounding Race in Rap Songs, by Loren Kajikawa. In Current Musicology, No. 101 (Fall 2016).

2008 Sounding Out: Pauline Oliveros and Lesbian Musicality, by Martha Mockus. In Critical Studies in Improvisation/Études Critiques en Improvisation, Vol. 4 (2) (December 2008).

Encyclopedia Entries

2016 “Buddhism.” In The Encyclopedia of African American Culture, edited by Gerald Early. Greenwood Press.

2016 “Reenacting Historic Jazz Performances.” In The Oxford Handbooks Online in Music edited by Alexander Rehding. Oxford University Press.

2013 “Gender.” In Grove Dictionary of American Music, second edition, edited by Charles Hiroshi Garrett. Oxford University Press.

2011 “Brass Bands, Orchestras, and Dance Bands, 1919-1942.” In Encyclopedia of African American Music, edited by Emmett G. Price III, Tammy L. Kernodle, and Horace J. Maxile. Greenwood Press.

2011 “Rhythm n’ Blues, 1968-1980.” In Encyclopedia of African American Music, edited by Emmett G. Price III, Tammy L. Kernodle, and Horace J. Maxile. Greenwood Press.


2011-2013 Provost’s Postdoctoral Scholar in the Humanities, University of Southern California.

2009-2010 Visiting Scholar with the Beatrice M. Bain Research Group, University of California, Berkeley.

2007-2008 Postdoctoral Scholar with the “Improvisation, Community, and Social Practice” (ICASP) Research Initiative, University of Guelph, ON, Canada. 

2003-2007 University of California Predoctoral Humanities Fellowship, University of California, San Diego.  One of only four fellowships awarded each year, campus-wide. Two years teaching-release.

2006  The Erickson Prize for Excellence in Research in Music, University of California, San Diego.

2006  The Jazz Society of Lower Southern California Award for Excellence in Jazz Performance, University of California, San Diego.

2002-2003 Scholarship in Composition, University of North Texas.

2001-2002  The David M. Schimmel Memorial Scholarship in Composition, University of North Texas.