David Carson Berry (born March 28, 1968) is an American music theorist and historian, writer about music, and college professor. Among his diverse research interests are American popular music of the 1920s–60s, including a focus on Irving Berlin and Jimmy Van Heusen; the theory and aesthetics of music of the mid-eighteenth through mid-twentieth centuries, including a focus on Igor Stravinsky; and Schenkerian theory and its reception history in the U.S.
Berry was born in Paragould, Arkansas, as the only child of Jimmy Shelton Berry and Melba Moore Berry. The family moved to Marked Tree, Arkansas in 1969. The parents taught in the town's only school district: the father, social studies; and the mother, home economics. Berry completed primary and secondary school there, graduating as the valedictorian of Marked Tree High School in 1986.
Berry attended Arkansas State University in Jonesboro, Arkansas, where music composition was his major and trombone performance was a secondary interest; he graduated magna cum laude in 1990, with a Bachelor of Music degree in composition. He next attended Memphis State University (now University of Memphis), where he initially began working on a master's degree in composition. He changed his focus while there, and graduated with a Master of Music degree in music theory in 1993. His thesis, completed under the advisement of David Russell Williams, was entitled "Portrait with Retouches: The Adaptation and Transformation of Stravinsky's Pulcinella Finale." He was subsequently accepted as a doctoral student and teaching fellow at the University of North Texas; he was enrolled there from 1993 to 1995, and studied with John Covach, Graham Phipps, Janna Saslaw, David Schwartz, and others. He left the program after spring 1995, in order to apply to other schools. In fall 1996, he began doctoral studies at Yale University. While there he studied with Kofi Agawu, Gianmario Borio, Allen Forte, Michael Friedmann, David Kopp, Patrick McCreless, Robert Morgan, Claude V. Palisca, and Leon Plantinga. After his coursework was completed he taught "Elementary Studies in Analysis and Composition I and II," for which he was awarded a "Prize Teaching Fellowship" in 2001, in recognition of "outstanding performance and promise as a teacher." His dissertation, completed in 2002 under the advisement of Forte, was entitled "Stravinsky's 'Skeletons': Reconnoitering the Evolutionary Paths from Variation Sets to Serialism." Work on it was facilitated by a fellowship from the Whiting Foundation, and upon its completion the dissertation was accepted as "distinguished" by the Yale Music Department.
After receiving his Ph.D. in music theory in 2002, Berry was appointed a lecturer at Yale for the 2002–03 academic year. In fall 2003, he was appointed assistant professor of music theory at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music; and in 2009 he was granted tenure and promoted to associate professor.
In 2006 Berry was awarded the Society for Music Theory's "Emerging Scholar Award" for "The Meaning(s) of 'Without': An Exploration of Liszt's Bagatelle ohne Tonart," 19th-Century Music 27/3 (2004): 230-262. The article was described by the SMT awards committee as a "careful and detailed analytical study, of a single piece with a tantalizing title, [that] places the music within the framework of 19th-century musical thought, in particular the evolving theories of chromaticism that would eventually lead to Schoenberg's radicalism and beyond. The author shows that Liszt's 'Bagatelle without Tonality' is not so much 'without tonality' as a piece without the fulfillment of a tonic. In doing so, he makes a telling contribution to what many consider the central story of music theory: the story of the circumvention of tonality."
To date, Berry has published 19 articles and reviews, and has delivered roughly 30 papers on diverse topics at various academic venues in the U.S. and Europe. His book, A Topical Guide to Schenkerian Literature: An Annotated Bibliography with Indices (Hillsdale, NY: Pendragon Press, 2004), is the largest reference work devoted to writings about the music theorist Heinrich Schenker and his approach to analysis; it contains 3600 entries, representing the work of 1475 authors.
Berry is currently the editor of Gamut: The Journal of the Music Theory Society of the Mid-Atlantic. He is a past editor of Theory and Practice (the journal of the Music Theory Society of New York State), and a past reviews editor of the Journal of Music Theory."Dynamic Introductions: The Affective Role of Melodic Ascent and Other Linear Devices in Selected Song Verses of Irving Berlin," Intégral 13 (1999): 1-62.
"The Popular Songwriter as Composer: Mannerisms and Design in the Music of Jimmy Van Heusen," Indiana Theory Review 21 (2000): 1-51.
Review of Irving Berlin: Songs from the Melting Pot: The Formative Years, 1907–1914, by Charles Hamm, Contemporary Music Review 19/1 (2000): 157-166.
Review of Irving Berlin: A Life in Song, by Philip Furia, Music Theory Online 6/5 (2000). Accessible at .
"Gambling with Chromaticism? Extra-Diatonic Melodic Expression in the Songs of Irving Berlin," Theory and Practice 26 (2001): 21-85.
Review of Irving Berlin: American Troubadour, by Edward Jablonski, Notes [Journal of the Music Library Association] 57/4 (2001): 917-919.
Review of Stravinsky: The Rite of Spring, by Peter Hill, Notes [Journal of the Music Library Association] 58/2 (2001): 357-358.
"On Teaching 'Tonal Mirror Counterpoint': A Guide to Concepts and Practice," Journal of Music Theory Pedagogy 16 (2002): 1-56.
"The Role of Adele T. Katz in the Early Expansion of the New York 'Schenker School,'" Current Musicology 74 (2002): 103-151.
"Hans Weisse and the Dawn of American Schenkerism," Journal of Musicology 20/1 (2003): 104-156.
"The Meaning(s) of 'Without': An Exploration of Liszt's Bagatelle ohne Tonart," 19th-Century Music 27/3 (2004): 230-262.
A Topical Guide to Schenkerian Literature: An Annotated Bibliography with Indices (Hillsdale, NY: Pendragon Press, 2004).
"Victor Vaughn Lytle and the Early Proselytism of Schenkerian Ideas in the U.S.," Journal of Schenkerian Studies 1 (2005): 92-117.
"Schenkerian Theory in the United States: A Review of Its Establishment and a Survey of Current Research Topics," Zeitschrift der Gesellschaft für Musiktheorie 2/2-3 (2005): 101-137.
"Stravinsky, Igor," in Europe 1789 to 1914: Encyclopedia of the Age of Industry and Empire, editors-in-chief John Merriman and Jay Winter (Detroit: Charles Scribner's Sons, 2006): vol. 4, 2261–2263.
"Hans Weisse (1892–1940)," in Schenker-Traditionen: Eine Wiener Schule der Musiktheorie und ihre internationale Verbreitung [Schenker Traditions: A Viennese School of Music Theory and Its International Dissemination], ed. Martin Eybl and Evelyn Fink-Mennel (Vienna: Böhlau Verlag, 2006): 91-103.
"Journal of Music Theory under Allen Forte’s Editorship,” Journal of Music Theory 50/1 (2006): 7–23.
"The Roles of Invariance and Analogy in the Linear Design of Stravinsky's 'Musick to Heare,'" Gamut 1/1 (2008). Accessible at .
"The Twin Legacies of a Scholar-Teacher: The Publications and Dissertation Advisees of Allen Forte," in A Music-Theoretical Matrix: Essays in Honor of Allen Forte (Part I), ed. David Carson Berry, Gamut 2/1 (2009): 197-222. Accessible at .
"'Verborgene Wiederholungen'? Schenker's (Hidden?) Influence in America in the 1930s. Part I: George Wedge and the Filtering of Schenker's Ideas for the 'Average' Person," Theory and Practice (forthcoming).