Dr. Galen DeGraf is a music theorist, composer, drummer, and organist based in New York. He received his Bachelor's degree Phi Beta Kappa from Wesleyan University in Middletown CT, where he received high honors in music for his thesis Situating Salsa through Tito Puente's Life and Music, as well as the Leavell Memorial Prize from the World Music Program. He received his master's and doctoral degrees in music theory from Columbia University. His dissertation Navigating Musical Periodicities: Modes of Perception and Types of Temporal Knowledge, sponsored by Joseph Dubiel, explores modes of temporal perception, embodied actions, and rhythmic pedagogy. As a music theorist, Galen's research focuses on rhythm and meter, embodiment, analysis of film music, and music pedagogy.
Galen performed as a showband drummer for Carnival Cruise Lines and currently serves as director of music and organist for Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal Church in Ridgewood, Queens. He lives in Westchester County, New York.
B.A. with high honors in music, Wesleyan University, 2009
M.A. in music theory, Columbia University, 2012
M.Phil in music theory, Columbia University, 2014
Ph.D in music theory, Columbia University, 2018
As a teacher, Galen believes that music theory training can be vital to many types of student, because it develops new ways of thinking about music, and those ways of thinking apply beyond the particulars of a certain style. He draws upon multi-modal learning strategies to promote engagement through creative exploration and active discovery, while maintaining a commitment to anti-racism, inclusivity, and intellectual transparency. He utilizes software such as Dorico, Cubase, Final Cut, and Photoshop to make material more accessible, beautiful, engaging, and fun.
Galen has taught courses in music theory and music history at Columbia University as well as composition courses on Renaissance counterpoint, film scoring, and techniques of twentieth-century music.
When scoring to picture, he writes music that enhances underlying emotions of a scene and excels in creative transformations of themes.
He is currently writing a collection and theory of liturgical chant harmonizations influenced by medieval fauxbourdon and tintinnabuli style.
As a drummer, Galen specializes in jazz drumset, Afro-Caribbean percussion, and South Indian solkattu. He has performed in various jazz settings, a Beatles cover band, a salsa big band (on timbales), and was a showband drummer for Carnival Cruise Lines.
Galen began studying organ while he was a doctoral student at Columbia. He is director of music and organist for Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal Church in Queens, New York, with regular masses in English, Italian, and Polish. His approach incorporates improvisation to weave together themes from hymns and psalms into an exciting live score that seamlessly accompanies each mass.
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