Guidelines for Contributors

For questions, please contact the Editor ( ).

MTO Editorial Policy

Article Topics. Music Theory Online (MTO) welcomes submissions on any topic of interest to the music theory community. The increasing diversity of theoretical and analytical endeavors opens the way for articles of interest to a wider online audience. In an effort to broaden the scope of ideas presented in MTO, we especially encourage submissions from authors whose knowledge of other disciplines can contribute to musical understanding.

MTO also encourages articles on any topic that takes advantage of the unique opportunities provided by MTO’s electronic format: either as an addendum to an otherwise “traditional” article, or in an article conceived using various multimedia formats. Among the possible technologies are:

Sound files (such as MIDI files of musical examples, digitized field recordings or experimental stimuli)
Color graphics (annotated analytic diagrams, new forms of musical visualization)
Animation (such as Quicktime or Flash movies illustrating musical processes, perhaps linked to audio)
Video (showing clips of performances or illustrating teaching techniques)
Non-linear presentation (such as articles with variable paths)
Interactive elements
Use of live hyperlinks to reference online resources

MTO Editorial Assistants and Consultants can provide assistance in some of these areas. Potential authors are welcome to contact the Editor to discuss their ideas.

Review Topics MTO aims to publish brief, but timely reviews of scholarly books and textbooks. Here is some more information about reviews.

Length of Featured Articles. Submissions should be no longer than 15,000-16,000 words, although in exceptional cases we will consider longer submissions if the length is clearly justified. Length alone is generally not a factor in publication decisions, however. Innovative formats for longer articles or shorter communications are welcomed. In addition, we are happy to consider complete special volumes on a single topic.

Submission and Review Timetable. Authors may submit items for consideration at any time. Reviews are normally completed within eight weeks. Accepted articles typically appear within three to six months of final acceptance.

Blind Review. All submissions to MTO are read “blind.” To ensure a blind reading, please submit your text to the MTO editor as described below.

Republication. Items published in MTO, particularly revised and expanded versions of works in progress, may be republished by their authors in a print journal or as a book chapter provided that one of the following statements is included in the republished version as appropriate:

This article was first published in Music Theory Online Vol/Issue (Year),

This article is based on an article first published in Music Theory Online Vol/Issue (Year),

Questions concerning the MTO editorial policy should be addressed to the Editor ( ).

Preparing Your Text

Formatting Requirements. MTO is published in HTML format. Authors may submit their articles in Word or other readable text format, in HTML, or as a PDF document. Submissions should be carefully proofread and submitted in the clearest, most readable format possible. In general, authors should be concerned with providing a clean and accurate text rather than with a polished layout with detailed web formatting—the details of HTML formatting and layout will be handled by MTO when a submission is prepared for publication. It is appropriate for authors to include standard footnotes and bibliographic references in files made with Word or other word processors (see below, however, for MTO style guidelines). Authors do not need to create hyperlinks within their texts.

Ensuring Blind Review. All article submissions to MTO are read “blind.” The Author's name should be listed only in the Indexing and Author headers described below. The editor will remove these before sending the item out for review. Authors are also asked to avoid any references in the body of the text that might suggest their identity (e.g., first-person citations of previous work can be recast as third-person citations: “in a previous article, I suggest. . .” becomes “in . . . Author suggests. . .”). These restrictions apply only to articles. Reviews and commentaries are not blind-reviewed.

Language. The Society for Music Theory has endorsed the principle that language that treats both sexes equally should characterize all its publications. Guidelines for Non-Sexist Language are available online at:

Headers. Every submission (articles, reviews, and commentaries) should include, on a separate page preceding the article text:

an indexing header
an author header (identifying authors by name, institution, and email address)
a list of accompanying files

Indexing Header. The indexing header should appear at the very beginning of articles, reviews, and commentaries, and should be in the following form:

AUTHOR: LastName, FirstName, MiddleInitial
TITLE: ArticleTitle
KEYWORDS: KeywordList
ABSTRACT: AbstractText
REFERENCE: ArticleTitle

In the KEYWORDS field, provide descriptive keywords separated by commas (e.g., KEYWORDS: form, sonata, Koch, C.P.E. Bach). Keywords should be either topical or the names of composers or theorists. If topical, they should be general in nature (e.g., rhythm, form, acoustics, etc.), or should identify a genre discussed substantively in the article (e.g., sonata, symphony).

In the ABSTRACT field, provide a brief (one- or two- paragraph) abstract of your work. The ABSTRACT field is not required for reviews or commentaries.

The REFERENCE field should be included only by authors of commentaries on MTO articles. It should be filled in with the filename of the article being commented upon, as listed in the issue of MTO in which the article appeared.

Author Header. The author header should appear in the following form:

FirstName MiddleInitial LastName
Institutional Affiliation
Departmental Affiliation
Street Address
City, State Zipcode
Email Address(es)

List of Accompanying Files. Provide a list of files that accompany your submission:

ACCOMPANYING FILES: Item1, Item2, etc.

The “ACCOMPANYING FILES” section should be used to list the names of files such as graphics, musical examples, audio files, videos, animations, illustrations, tables, etc. (see Graphics and Musical Examples below). The text of the article should follow the list of accompanying files.

Example. Below is an example of indexing and author headers, with a list of accompanying files.

AUTHOR: Kraus, Joseph C.
TITLE: Coaching Mozart’s String Quintet in E-flat major: Finding the Rhythmic Shape
KEYWORDS: analysis and performance, rhythm, hypermeter, Schenker, string quintet, Mozart
ABSTRACT: In this paper I explore the use of rhythmic analysis in relation to performance decisions for a coaching of Mozart’s String Quintet in E-flat major, K. 614, first movement. The analysis proposes a “basic rhythmic shape” for this movement, addresses issues involving phrase rhythm (phrase structure in relation to hypermeter), and presents possible responses to these observations in performance.

Joseph C. Kraus
Florida State University
College of Music
132 N. Copeland St.
Tallahassee, FL 32306-1180

ACCOMPANYING FILES: kraus_example1.jpg, kraus_example2.gif, kraus_audioexample1.mp3,, [etc.]

Paragraph numbering. Since MTO items do not have page numbers, paragraph numbers are required for reference. Paragraphs should be numbered consecutively throughout the document in brackets: [1] [2] etc. It is acceptable, however, to group paragraphs into larger sections and to modify the paragraph numbers as follows: [1.1] [1.2] ... [2.5] [2.6] etc.

Example captions. References to musical examples and figures, along with identifying captions, should be included at appropriate points in the text. For instance:

Example 1. Chopin, op. 10, no. 6, mm. 1–8

Punctuation and other conventions. Here are some general guidelines for the formatting of text in MTO submissions.

  1. Quotations: Block quotations should be handled as discussed in the Chicago Manual of Style (16th ed.), sections 13.9 and 13.20–22. Omit leading and trailing ellipses within quotations. For quoted material in the main text, the parenthetical author/date citation follows the closing quotation mark and precedes the final punctuation:

              “in conveying a trajectory of tension and stability” (Temperley 2008, 305).
  2. Commas: A comma is used to separate all items in a series of three or more (including the last item).

              “ . . . major, minor, and augmented . . .” (comma before “and”)
  3. Dashes and hyphens: Use the en-dash to indicate a continuous range (e.g., “in the years 1968–72” or “in mm. 52–53”). Use a 3-em dash and period for authors or editors named in the preceding entry of a bibliography. For proper usage of dashes, hyphens, em dashes, and 3-em dashes, see the Chicago Manual of Style (16th ed.), sections 6.78–91.
  4. Ellipses: Use three spaced periods in addition to any existing punctuation. See Chicago Manual of Style (16th ed.), sections 13.48–56.
  5. Measure numbers: The terms “measure” or “measures” should be abbreviated “m.” or “mm.” When referring to a specific beat within a measure, use a period to separate the measure number from its subdivision. Thus, for a piece in common time, one may write:

              “The violas enter in m. 8.4 . . .”
  6. Numbers:
  7. Use words: twentieth century, sixties, eighth note, quarter note, chord fifth, five hundred years ago; see also Chicago Manual of Style (16th ed.), section 9.2.

    Use numerals: 26,000, pages 48–56, minor 6th, April 19, 1936

    Plurals: To make a plural out of a number, add an “s” but no apostrophe: (e.g., the 1960s, or “accented 32nds”)
  8. Note names: Flats, sharps, and naturals should be indicated by the conventional signs when referring to pitches: Eb or F#. (NOTE: MTO will substitute in the actual sharp, flat, and natural symbols when preparing items for publication.) When referring to the title of a work, the accidental should be spelled out: E-flat.
  9. Octave identification: MTO prefers the Acoustical Society of America’s convention for indicating specific pitches: middle C is C4. The number need only be used when needed to disambiguate pitches; if there is only one G in bar, for example, there is no need to refer to it as G5.
  10. Page numbers: Page numbers in citations and references should be abbreviated following the Chicago Manual of Style (16th ed.), section 9.60.
    If the first number is . . .  the second number will . . . Examples
    less than 100
    use all digits1–8, 11–13, 76–99
    100 or a multiple of 100
    (numbers ending with two zeros)
    use all digits100–105, 700–778, 1200–1211
    101 through 109, 201 through 209, etc.
    (penultimate numeral is zero)
    use changed portion only101–8, 307–14, 2002–3
    110 through 199, 210 through 299, etc. use two digits unless more are needed
    to include all changed parts
    111–13, 245–46, 1789–802, 5067–68
  11. Quotation marks: In general, use “double” quotation marks; use ‘single’ quotation marks within double quotation marks for a quotation within a quotation. Place commas and periods (but not other punctuation) inside closing quotation marks.
  12. Special symbols: If your submission contains mathematical or other special symbols, you should provide MTO with any needed fonts and with a PDF file that correctly displays the appearance of those symbols. Scale degree carets and stacked figured bass may be submitted as below:
    can be given as ^3
    can be given as 4/3
  13. Spellings: British spellings should be “Americanized.”
  14. Capitalization, italicization, and music-specific terms:
    Example x
    Sonata, Nocturne, Prelude, etc. (when used as a title)
    Piano Sonata op. 2, no. 3 (opus not spelled out; no comma before “op.” unless the key is given as in Piano Sonata in C major, op. 2, no. 3) Sonata K. 545
    Symphony no. 35 (“Haffner”)
    All key and pitch-class names (E major, the flute’s C, etc.)
    Medieval, Renaissance, Baroque, Classic, etc. (historical eras)
    German nouns (also, italicize Schenkerian terms such as Ursatz, Deckton, Vordergrund, etc.)
    Chapter 1

    Lower case: sonata structure, Mozart sonatas, etc. (general reference)
    stanza 1, level 2, section 3, etc.
    modifiers in prose (major 3rd, diminished 5th, minor 6th)
    Sonata in E-flat major (modifier and mode in titles)

    Italicize: Titles of larger works such as operas, musicals, ballets, tone poems, song cycles, some instrumental works, albums (e.g., Don Giovanni, Liederkreis, Abbey Road)

    In quotations: Song titles from individual selections within larger works (“Erstarrung” from Winterreise)

Reference Style

MTO accepts submissions using any reference style. Submissions accepted for publication, however, must employ the author-date system of documentation as outlined in Chapter 15 of The Chicago Manual of Style (16th ed.).

Author-date citations. Only author-date citations should appear in the body of the document, generally in parentheses and situated at the ends of sentences to cause minimal visual disruption to the reader:

The former are called displacement dissonances and the latter are called grouping dissonances (Krebs 1999).

When referring to the author in the sentence, only the date is placed in parentheses:

Krebs (1999) refers to the former as displacement dissonances and the latter as grouping dissonances.

When referring to the work in a sentence, neither is placed in parentheses.

Krebs 1999 delineates the difference between displacement and grouping dissonances.

When two or more works published in the same year by a single author are referenced, both text citations and the list of works cited must use the letters a, b, and so on to disambiguate them. If specific pages or page ranges are being cited, these numbers should be listed following the year.

(Hasty 1981a, 55)
(Hasty 1981b, 272–89)

Page numbers in citations and references should be abbreviated: see Chicago Manual of Style (16th ed.), section 9.60.

Works cited list. Complete references should appear only in the bibliography under the heading WORKS CITED. Some sample references are included below, but authors should consult chapter 15 of the Chicago Manual of Style (16th ed.) for more detailed explanations of bibliographic entries.

    Journal articles, one author:

Brothers, Thomas. 1994. “Solo and Cycle in African-American Jazz.” Musical Quarterly 78, no. 3: 479–509.

    Journal articles, more than one author:

Brown, Matthew, and Douglas J. Dempster. 1989. “The Scientific Image of Music Theory.” Journal of Music Theory 33, no. 1: 63–106.

    Books, one author:

Rothstein, William. 1989. Phrase Rhythm in Tonal Music. New York: Schirmer Books.

    Edited volumes:

Beach, David, ed. 1983. Aspects of Schenkerian Theory. New Haven and London: Yale University Press.

    Articles in an edited volume:

Folio, Cynthia. 1995. ”An Analysis of Polyrhythm in Selected Improvised Jazz Solos.” In Concert Music, Rock, and Jazz since 1945: Essays and Analytical Studies, ed. Elizabeth W. Marvin and Richard Hermann, 131–45. Rochester, New York: University of Rochester Press.

    Two or more references by a single author published in the same year:

Hasty, Christopher F. 1981a. “Rhythm in Post-Tonal Music: Preliminary Questions of Duration and Motion.” Journal of Music Theory 25: 183–216.

———. 1981b. “Segmentation and Process in Post-Tonal Music.” Music Theory Spectrum 3: 54–73.

Footnotes. Footnotes should be reserved for prose annotation of references, discursive asides, or a relatively large number of references (more than three), and not merely for one or two references. Footnote reference numbers in the body of the essay should follow all punctuation at the end of a sentence or clause.

Appropriate footnote:

2. Groove is a slippery term, of course, embracing as it does a variety of connotations. Understood as a noun, a groove features “a steady, virtually isochronous pulse that is established collectively by an interlocking composite of rhythmic entities and is either intended for or derived from dance” (Iyer 2002, 397); the expression “groove-based music,” as employed here, emerges from this sense of the word. Ingrid Monson acknowledges this common usage, but her fieldwork with jazz musicians leads her also to emphasize groove’s meaning as an aesthetic quality characterized by a shared sense of beat, “a rhythmic relation or feeling existing between two or more musical parts and/or individuals” (Monson 1996, 68). Keil’s concept of engendered feeling aims in part to capture this aesthetic quality of groove, though it emerged from his research on groove-based musics such as jazz, blues, and polka. For other explanations or definitions of groove, see Keil and Feld 1994, 22–24; Pressing 2002, 288; and Pond 2005, 206n41. On “vital drive,” see Hodeir 1956, 207–9.

Inappropriate footnotes:

3. Butler 2006.
4. Ibid.

Citing MTO items. The proper form for citing items published in MTO is as follows:

A. In a bibliography:

Kraus, Joseph C. 2009. “Coaching Mozart’s String Quintet in E-flat major: Finding the Rhythmic Shape.” Music Theory Online 15, no. 2.

B. In a footnote (citing paragraph 3, for instance):

Joseph C. Kraus, “Coaching Mozart’s String Quintet in E-flat major: Finding the Rhythmic Shape,” Music Theory Online 15, no. 2 (2009), [3].

Preparing Supporting Files

MTO welcomes files in any electronic format that we are able to read. Preferred file formats for text include MS Word, HTML, and PDF. Compressed image file formats, including GIF, JPG, and PDF are fine for submissions. Authors should retain high-resolution original files, as they may be needed after a submission has been accepted for publication.

Graphics and Musical Examples. For initial submissions, notated examples and other graphics should be embedded within the text or submitted as a single separate PDF file. If the article is accepted, we will request separate high-resolution graphic files for each example. The examples should contain enough pixels to be able to be printed out crisply at 300 PPI. For example, if a graphic is intended to fill the page width when printed (7.5 inches), it should be at least 2250 pixels wide (7.5 X 300). PNG, GIF, or JPG files are strongly preferred. Provide a logical name for each file, making sure each filename ends with its standard filename extension (e.g., .png, .gif, .jpg) so that we will know how best to open it.

Other File Types. Appropriate use of media formats such as MIDI and MP3 audio files, streaming audio or video (e.g., Quicktime), animation (e.g., Flash), and the like is welcome. Authors are welcome to discuss their ideas with the Editor in advance.

Regarding the use of copyrighted audio or video, short excerpts will normally qualify as fair use. See, for instance, the use of video excerpts and movie stills in Frank Lehman’s article, “Hollywood Cadences.” In the case of longer excerpts or entire works, we would prefer to see some kind of “transformed content,” such as the addition of an analytical layer. For one such instance of transformed content, see the timeline diagram of Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance” in Mark Spicer’s article “(Per)Form in(g) Rock.”

Submitting your Files

Files may be sent as attachments to one of the following email addresses: (for articles and commentaries) (for reviews)

For large files, please use Dropbox ( or a similar file delivery service.

Requesting Technical Assistance

MTO has staff who can assist authors with technical matters. Contact Brent Yorgason, Managing Editor (

You may also contact the Editor:

Nicole Biamonte (McGill University)
Editor, Music Theory Online