Keith P. Salley

Music Theory Coordinator; Associate Professor, Music Theory

Conservatory Academics

202 Ruebush

(540) 545-7331

Faculty Member since 2007

The purpose and goal of all music theory courses is to give students the ability to engage critically with music of the Western world so that they may understand the processes through which it creates meaning.


B.M., University of Memphis; M.M., Tulane University; Ph.D., University of Oregon

Professional Highlights

  • Dr. Salley's research interests include music theory pedagogy, linguistics, and music of the twentieth century-including concert music, pop, and jazz.

    His M.A. thesis, "Invariant Properties of Harmonic Substitution in Jazz," investigates similarities of harmonic sound, structure, and connectivity that allow jazz musicians to substitute harmonies in improvisation, accompaniment, and composition. His dissertation, "Scriabin the Progressive," deals with innovative aspects of the early piano works of Alexander Scriabin. His current research engages structural aspects of standard jazz repertoire.

    Dr. Salley has shared his ideas at regional, national, and international symposiums for music theory and music pedagogy, including meetings of the Society for Music Theory and the College Music Society. In 2011, he presented his ideas on developing critical thinking skills in music theory at conferences in the United States and the Netherlands. More recently, he has spoken about phrase rhythm in standard jazz repertoire here in the states and in Canada. His articles appear in The Journal of Music Theory Pedagogy, Popular Music, The Dutch Journal of Music Theory, The Journal of Jazz Studies, as well as a chapter in the book Pop-Culture Pedagogy in the Music Classroom (Scarecrow Press, 2010).
Personal Highlights

Before coming to the Shenandoah Conservatory, Keith Salley taught jazz guitar at The University of Memphis and Tulane University. He has played Jazz, Blues, Rock, Reggae, Bluegrass, Irish Trad, and Celtic music professionally.