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Matthew Hough

Director of Musicianship

Matthew Hough (b. 1981) is a composer, performer and music theorist based in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Hough relocated to Berkeley, California in 2015 after sixteen years of working in New York City’s eclectic music scene as a composer, performer, writer and educator. His recent creative output includes concert music collaborations with organist Meghann Wilhoite (Herzlich, 2018, the first work ever composed specifically for UC Berkeley’s new Hertz Hall concert organ) and pianists Anne Rainwater (Three Voices, 2018) and Dahveed Behroozi (New York Song, 2016). Hough’s current research focuses on techniques for analysis of popular song as well as methods for promoting diversity and incorporating technology into the undergraduate theory/skills curriculum. Hough was named in 2019 as a UC Berkeley Presidential Chair Fellow (one of only fifteen such faculty across the entire campus), leading a team awarded a $17,000 grant to develop new technology for undergraduate core curriculum enhancement.

Hough has received composition commissions from ensembles and organizations including Iktus Percussion, Yarn/Wire, Loadbang, Red Light New Music and the Freeport, New York school district. He has received awards and grants from New Music USA, the Sally Mead Hands Foundation, Pollock-Krasner Foundation, University of California, New York University and the Manhattan School of Music. He has been a composer in residence at the Omi International Arts Center (NY), Woodstock Byrdcliffe Guild (NY), Atlantic Center for the Arts (FL), Hambidge Center for the Creative Arts and Sciences (GA), Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, Osage Arts Community (MO) and the Willapa Bay AiR Program (WA).

Hough’s work as a composer, guitarist and vocalist includes performances and recordings under his own name and with groups including Zs, Wet Ink Ensemble, Music=quals, Seductive Sprigs, Blarvuster and a duo with composer/guitarist Juan Calderon.

Hough has authored articles published in the Society for Music Theory’s electronic journal Music Theory Online, Oxford University Press’ Grove Music Online and the journal Guitar Review.

Hough’s music can be heard on Original Abstractions and is published by Hough House.

Research Interests

Instrumental and vocal composition, theory and analysis of popular music, theory and ear training pedagogy

Selected Compositions

Five Miniatures for flute, clarinet, violin and viola (2019)

Herzlich for organ (2018)

Three Voices for piano and stereo playback (2018)

Shadows ten songs (2017)

Dark Space(s) for electric guitar, electronic keyboard and piano (2016)

When Summer Ends ten songs (2015)

Eleven Cells for any number of woodwind instruments and live electronics (2013)

Remembered States for female voice, flute, bassoon, trumpet, saxophone [t+s], violin, piano, electric guitar and percussion (2011)

pppppppppppppppp for four or more musicians (2010)

Step Into the Fun Zone for alto flute, clarinet, trumpet, tenor saxophone, electric guitar, piano, percussion, violin, viola and cello (2008)

Since We Don’t Understand… for electric guitar and piano (2007)

Woodworking for two tenor saxophones, two electric guitars and two percussionists (2005)

Selected Publications

“Elements of Style in Three Demo Recordings by Stevie Nicks.”  Music Theory Online 21, no. 1 (March 2015).

“Billone, Pierluigi.”  Grove Music Online.  Oxford University Press, January 13, 2015.

“Ligeti, Lukas.”  Grove Music Online.  Oxford University Press, January 13, 2015.

Selected Talks

Ear Training with Peer Performance Dictation. College Music Society National Conference, 2019.

Modular Loops: Toward an Integrated Theory Pedagogy for Cycle-Based Popular Music. Pedagogy Into Practice: Teaching Music Theory in the Twenty-First Century, Lee University (TN), 2017.

Learning Oliver Mtukudzi’s “Tuku Music” Through Modular Loops. Analytical Approaches to World Music International Conference, The New School (NY), 2016.

Jamaican Popular Music in the College Aural Skills Classroom. Ann Arbor Symposium IV: Teaching and Learning Popular Music, University of Michigan, 2015.

Ear Training Wizard: An Interactive Web-Based Application for Musicianship Skills Acquisition. Innovation Celebration Teaching Symposium, Wagner College, 2014.

Selected Previous Teaching Experience

Medgar Evers College of the City University of New York, 2014-15 (subject: ethnomusicology)

New York University, Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Human Development, 2013-15 (subjects: theory, ear training)

Wagner College, 2013-15 (subjects: composition, theory)

Columbia University, 2012-14 (subjects: theory, ear training)

Nyack College School of Music NYC, 2011-13 (subjects: composition, theory, ear training, improvisation)

SUNY Empire State College, 2011-12 (subjects: theory, musicology)


DMA (Composition), Manhattan School of Music, 2012.

MMus (Composition), Manhattan School of Music, 2009.

BMus (Composition), Manhattan School of Music, 2004.