Dr. John D. Spilker

Assistant Professor of Music and Gender Studies
(402) 465-2291
jspilke2 [at] NebrWesleyan.edu
Rogers Fine Arts 304
Office hours: 

Fall 2015
Monday 7:30–8:30am
Tuesday 3-4pm
Wednesday 1–2pm
Thursday 9–10am

Please Visit My Website:


John D. Spilker received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Music with emphases in Music Theory and Choral Conducting from Brigham Young University and Master of Music and Doctor of Philosophy degrees in Musicology from The Florida State University. Prior to his arrival at NWU, he taught undergraduate and graduate courses in music history, research methods, and world music at Oklahoma State University and undergraduate courses in music history, analysis of music literature, and music appreciation at The Florida State University.

Dr. Spilker’s research focuses on American music and twentieth-century avant-garde art music. Through archival research and musical analysis his dissertation documents Henry Cowell’s contribution to the development and dissemination of dissonant counterpoint through his composing, teaching, and written publications. By contrast, the research for his master’s thesis traces the repertoire of musical works based on the biblical texts of King David’s laments for Absalom and Jonathan; these pieces date from the ninth through the twenty-first centuries.

An article about the sixteenth-century settings of David’s lamentations was published in College Music Symposium and his research on the seventeenth-century English choral works based on these biblical texts is found in Essays in Honor of Dr. Jeffery T. Kite-Powell. Dr. Spilker has recently published two articles that assess the significance of two primary source documents housed in the Henry Cowell Papers at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts. His research based on Cowell’s dissonant counterpoint notebook (c. 1914-1916) was published in the Journal of the Society for American Music and his article assessing Jeanette B. Holland’s class notes from Cowell’s 1951 Advanced Music Theory course at the New School for Social Research can be found in American Music. A new book project titled Dissonant Counterpoint in American Musical Culture investigates the reception of the compositional technique among varied composers associated with Cowell and the ultra-modern network, including José Ardévol, John J. Becker, Johanna Beyer, John Cage, Ruth Crawford, Vivian Fine, Lou Harrison, Carl Ruggles, and James Tenney, to name only a handful.

Dr. Spilker has presented his research at the International Medieval and Renaissance Music Conference, the International Association of Music Libraries, national meetings for the American Musicological Society, the Society for American Music, the Society for Music Theory, the College Music Society, the American Culture Association, and regional meetings for the American Musicological Society.


Ph.D., Musicology, The Florida State University, 2010
Certificate in Early Music, The Florida State University, 2008
M.M., Musicology, The Florida State University, 2006
B.A., Music, Brigham Young University, 2004

Courses taught: 

Archway Seminar: Musicals as a Platform for Taboo Sexual Topics
Archway Seminar: Social Media and Wellbeing
Archway Seminar: Courage, Compassion, & Connection
American Music
World Music Cultures
Film Music
Sex and the Arts
Music History: Gender & Sexuality
Music History: Environment
Senior Capstone Seminar

Professional and community affiliations, certifications and awards: 

Society for American Music
American Musicological Society
Society for Music Theory
College Music Society
Pi Kappa Lambda
Mu Phi Epsilon