Tahirih Motazedian

Assistant Professor of Music

Before deciding to pursue a career in music theory, Tahirih Motazedian earned a degree in geophysics from the University of Oregon, where she made an important discovery about water on Mars. She went on to work as a planetary scientist for NASA, working with lunar samples, solar samples, and serving as a Downlink Operations Lead for the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. After returning from the cosmos, Tahirih completed a PhD in music theory at Yale University. Her main interests are film music, nineteenth-century music, and Russian music, and she has given conference presentations at the annual meetings of the Society for Music Theory, the American Musicological Society, and Music and the Moving Image. Tahirih’s research publications, along with her new book on film music, can be found on her website.

BA, University of Arizona; BS, University of Oregon; MA, PhD, Yale University
At Vassar since 2017


Skinner Hall
Box 108

Research and Academic Interests

Music Theory
Film Music

Departments and Programs

Grants, Fellowships, Honors, Awards

Táhirih Motazedian, Assistant Professor of Music Theory, Publishes Key Constellations: Interpreting Tonality in Film.
Published by the University of California Press, this important work “is the first book to investigate film soundtracks—including original scoring, preexisting music, and sound effects—through the lens of large-scale tonality.”


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