Welcome to the Department of Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies

Associate ProfessorRao.Nancy_

Contact Information

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Tel: 732-932-8809

Office: MGSA - Music, 81 George Street, New Brunswick, NJ 08901-1411


Ph.D. in Music Theory, University of Michigan
M.A. in Music Theory, University of Michigan
B.A. in Music, National Taiwan Normal University

Research Interests

  • American Ultramodern Music
  • Sketch Studies of Elliott Carter’s String Quartet No. 1
  • Chinatown Opera Theaters in the North America, 1910-1945
  • Feminist Theory and Music
  • Contemporary Chinese Composers
  • Cultural Fusion in Music
  • Lu Yen (Taiwanese composer)

Biographical Notes

Dr. Rao has a degree in Music Performance from National Taiwan Normal University (B.A.) and degrees in Music Theory from the University of Michigan (M.M. and Ph.D.). Her research interests include the music of Ruth Crawford, Henry Cowell, and Elliott Carter, Chinese opera, Chinese contemporary compositions, early Chinese American music, and theories and analyses of cultural fusion in music. Her essay “Ruth Crawford's Imprint on Contemporary Composition” (See Publications Below) won the Irving Lowens Article Award from the Society for American Music in 2009 for its outstanding contribution to scholarship in American music. Rao served as chair of the Diversity Committee for the Society for Music Theory and organized special sessions that integrated non-western musical perspectives.  One of such sessions is “Cultures Eliding, Cultures Colliding: Postcolonialism, Globalism, and the Analysis of Music” at its 2002 annual meeting.   Rao remains active at the Society for Music Theory and Society for American Music.

Awards, Fellowships, Grants

Faculty Fellow
Center for Historical Analysis, Rutgers University-2001-2012

Dena Epstein Award                 
Music Library Association- 2011

Lowens Article Award               
Society for American Music-2009

Faculty Fellow
Institute for Research on Women, Rutgers University-2009-2010

Mannes Institute for Music Theory (Rhythm)-2005  

Research Fellowship                
National Endowment for the Humanities-2004-2005

Mannes Institute for Music Theory (Transformation)-2003

CCCS Fellowship                      
American Council of Learned Societies-2002-2003

Research Council Grant           
Rutgers University-1999, 2005, 2009

Selected Publications

Book Chapters:

  • “From Chinatown Opera to The First Emperor: Racial Imagination and The Trope of Chinese Opera." In Opera in a Multicultural World: Critical Perspectives on Race, Culture, and Ethnicity ed. by Joseph K. So and Roy Moodley (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, forthcoming).
  • “Chen Qigang, Tan Dun, Zhou Long, Chen Yi, Bright Sheng, and Lei Liang.” 2009 Chronicles of Contemporary Chinese Music ed. by Ren-ping Qian (Shanghai: Shanghai Music Conservatory Press, forthcoming).  (19,000 words, in Chinese)
  • “The Tradition of Luogu Dianzi (Percussion Classics) and Its Signification in Contemporary Music.” Chinea and the West: the Birth of New Music ed. by Lei Liang and Ed Green. (Shanghai: Shanghai Music Conservatory Press, 2009),  21-39.[In Chinese]
  • “Returning to New York: Manhattan’s Chinese Opera Theaters and the Golden Age of Cantonese Opera in North America.”  In Collected Essays from Symposium: Cantonese Opera: Historical Development Over the Last Two Hundred Years (Hong Kong: Chinese University of Hong Kong, 2008), 261-294. [In Chinese]
  • "Ruth Crawford's Imprint on Contemporary Composition."  In Ruth Crawford Seeger's Worlds: Innovation and Tradition in Twentieth-century American Music ed. by E. M. Hisama and R. Allen (Rochester, NY: University of Rochester Press, 2007), 110-147.  [2009 Lowens Best Article Award- Society for American Music]
  • "Henry Cowell and His Chinese Music Heritage: Theory of Sliding Tone and His Orchestral Work of 1953-1965."  In Locating East Asia in Western Art Music ed. by Yayoi U. Everett and Frederick Lau, (Wesleyan, Conn.: Wesleyan University Press, 2004), 119-145, 241-246.
  • "The Scope, Angle, and Theoretical Basis of the Discourse on the History of Chinese New Music." In Essays on Critical History of New Music in China. ed. by Ching-chih Liu and Li Ming, (Hong Kong: Hong Kong University, Centre of Asian Studies, 2001). [In Chinese]
  • "Imaginary Space in the Pentatonic Twelve-tone World: Luo Zhong Rong’s Qin-Yun."        In Papers and Proceeding of the Sixth Seminar on History of New Music in China: Its Form, Craftmanship, Aesthetics ed. by Ching-chih Liu and Li Ming, (Hong Kong: Hong Kong University, Centre of Asian Studies, 2000), 263-87.  [In Chinese]

Journal Articles:

  • “The Public Face of Chinatown: Actresses, Actors, Playwrights, and Audiences of Chinatown Theaters in San Francisco of the 1920s,” Journal of Society for American Music 5/2 (2011): 235-270.
  •  “The Color of Music Heritage: Chinese America in American Ultra-Modern Music. ” Journal of Asian American Studies 12/1 (February 2009): 83-119.
  •  “The Tradition of Luogu Dianzi (Percussion Classics) and Its Signification in Contemporary Music” Contemporary Music Review no. 5/6 (October/December 2007), 511-527.
  • "Cowell's Sliding Tone and American Ultra-Modernist Tradition." American Music 23/3 (2005): 281-323.
  • "Chromatic Space and the Poetics in Lu Yen's Ling Chung Gao Lo." Journal of Musical Arts (2002): 31-50.  [In Chinese]
  • "Hearing Pentatonicism Through Serialism: Integrating Different Traditions in Contemporary Chinese Music."  Perspectives of New Music 40/2 (2002): 190-232.
  • “A Comparison of Trichordal Relations in Milton Babbitt's String Quartet No. 2 and Elliott Carter's A Symphony for Three Orchestras."  Ewha Music Journal 6 (2002): 127-172.
  • "Songs of the Exclusion Era: New York's Cantonese Opera Theaters in the 1920s." American Music 20/4 (2002): 399-444.
  • "American Compositional Theory in the 1930s: Scale and Exoticism in ‘The Nature of Melody’ by Henry Cowell." Musical Quarterly 85/4 (2001): 595-640.
  • "The Role of Language in Music Integration in Chen Qigang’s Poème Lyrique II."    Journal of Music in China 2/2 (2000): 270-91.
  • "Racial Essence and Historical Invisibility: Chinese Opera in New York, 1930."         Cambridge Opera Journal 12/2 (2000): 135-62.
  • "Partnership in Modern Music: Charles Seeger and Ruth Crawford, 1929-1931."   American Music, 15/3 (1997): 352-380.


  • Review of Su Zheng: Claiming Diaspora: Music, Transnationalism, and Cultural Politics in Asian/Chinese America.  American Music 29/3 (2011): forthcoming.
  • Review of Barbara Mittler: Dangerous Tunes: The Politics of Chinese Music in Hong Kong, Taiwan, and the People’s Republic of China since 1949.   CHIME: Journal of the European Foundation for Chinese Music Research 12/13 (1997-98): 57-60.

Encyclopedia Articles and Liner Notes:

  • “Chinese Opera Theaters,” “Hong Fook Tong.” Encyclopedia of Asian American Folklore and Folklife ed. by Jonathan H.X. Lee and Kathleen M. Nadeau (Santa Barbara, CA: Greenwood Press, 2010), 241-246, 285-286.
  • “Chinese American Music” (1750 words); “Musical Theater—Ethnic Traditions—Asian—Chinatown Theater” (750 words) The Grove Dictionary of American Music, second edition, ed. by Charles Hiroshi Garrett (New York: Oxford University Press, forthcoming).
  • “Zhou Long and Chinese Classic Poetry." Liner note essay for Zhou Long: The Book of Songs  (Cala Records 77009, 2004), pages 2-11.

Recent Citations of Scholarly Work in Journals and Books:

“Racial Essence and Historical Invisibility” and “Songs of the Exclusion Era” cited in:

Claiming Diaspora: Music, Transnationalism, and Cultural Politics in Asian Asian/Chinese America (2010), Theatre Journal (Vol. 62.1, 2010), Journal of the Society for American Music (Vol. 4.1, 2010), Journal of Musicology (Vol. 26.3, 2009), Lives in Chinese Music (2009), British Columbia Studies (Vol. 148, 2005/2006), American Music (Vol. 24.1, 2006), Peking Opera and Politics in Taiwan (2005), Yellowface: Creating the Chinese in American Popular Music and Performance (2005), Journal of the American Musicological Society (Vol. 57.1, 2004), A Short History of Opera (2003)

"American Compositional Theory in the 1930s” and “Cowell’s Sliding Tone” cited in:

Journal of the Society for American Music (Vol. 4.1, 2010), Journal of the Society for American Music (Vol. 3.2, 2009), Journal of the American Musicological Society (Vol. 61.3, 2008), Beyond Exoticism: Western Music and the World (2007), Journal of the American Musicological Society (Vol. 59.1, 2006)

"Partnership in Modern Music” and "Ruth Crawford's Imprint” cited in:

Journal of the Society for American Music (Vol. 3.3, 2009), Elliott Carter: A Centennial Portrait in Letters and Documents (2008), Journal of the Society for American Music (Vol. 3.2, 2009) A Vast Simplicity: the Music of Carl Ruggles (2009), New Historical Anthology of Music by Women (2004)

"Hearing Pentatonicism through Serialism” cited in:

The Music of Chou Wen-Chung (2009), A Critical History of New Music in China (2009)

"Ruth Crawford's Imprint” reviewed by the following authors:

David Nicholls (Music Theory Online, 2008), Beverly Diamond (Women & Music, 2009), Arnold Whittall (Music & Letters, 2008), Sharon Michandani  (Notes, 2008)

Courses Offered

Undergraduate Courses:

  • Music Theory I-IV
  • Fundamental Musicianship I-V
  • Orchestration
  • Issues of Musical Forms in the Works of Fanny Hensel, Clara Schumann, and Amy Beach
  • Authorship and Identities of Women Composers in 20th-century American Art Music

Graduate Courses:

  • Methods in Music Analysis
  • Theory and Analysis of Twentieth-Century Music (I)
  • Theory and Analysis of Twentieth-Century Music(II)
  • Gender, Women and Music Analysis
  • Musical Gesture and Analysis
  • Rhythm and Meter from Haydn to Reich
  • Cultural Fusion, Exoticism, Cosmopolitanism and Music Analyses

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