John Moore

Thesis title: Music Theory YouTube: a critical examination of online audio-visual music theoretical discourses

University email:

Biography: John Moore is a final year PhD candidate at the University of Liverpool under the supervision of Professor Kenneth Smith and Dr Richard Worth. John’s thesis investigates music theory on YouTube, with a broader focus on music theory discourses in the digital age. Using data scraping methodologies, the thesis explores the size and scope of digitally mediated music theoretical discourses and their impact on digital community building and pedagogy. The research examines the characteristics and trends of music theory on YouTube, such as topics covered, language used, and audience engagement. Additionally, the study investigates the implications of digitally-mediated music theory on music education and the role of social media in music pedagogy. The thesis aims to contribute to the understanding of the relationship between digital technologies, music theory, and music education, and provides insights into the challenges and opportunities of digitally-mediated music theory in the internet age.

John has a background in education, having spent several years as a secondary head of department and some time training postgraduate teachers as subject specialist for music at the University of Chester. He regularly contributes to teaching in Classical Music History and other modules at Liverpool and is an Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. John completed his master’s thesis on ‘Negative Harmony’, a prolific and pervasive music theory meme which found its basis in the harmonic dualism of early Riemannian music theories. John has published on music theory and identity construction and on the language of music theory in the digital age and has presented his work at numerous national and international conferences in the USA, the Netherlands, Germany, Portugal and Ireland. 

Teaching and learning:

Since 2015 John has worked in a variety of educational settings in secondary, further and higher education. He spent several years as a secondary head of department, and some time training postgraduate initial teacher training candidates as the subject specialist for music at the University of Chester. At Liverpool John teaches Classical Music History, and has contributed to teaching in Musical Theatre, Popular Music History, and Exploring Harmony, Chord Progressions and Pitch.

Conference papers:

Moore, J and Burke, M (2022) “Tuplets for toddlers: collaboration as marketing on YouTube”, paper presented to the University of Liverpool Music Theory Research Colloquium, 16th March 2022.

Moore, J (2021) "We are all slaves to the algorithm", paper presented to the Research Colloquium, University of Potsdam, 29th October 2021.

Moore, J., (2020) "Music Hackers", paper presented to BFE/RMA Research Students Conference, Open University, Milton Keynes, 11th January 2020.

Moore, J., (2019) "Negative Harmony and the Illusion of Musical Profundity", paper presented to RMA/KVNM International Research Student’s Symposium, University of Amsterdam, 29th June 2019.

Moore, J., (2019) "A new dualism: post-truth music theory and the age of the internet", paper presented to Society for Musicology in Ireland’s 17th Annual Plenary Conference, Maynooth University, 28th June 2019.

Moore, J., (2019) "Music theory hacks: digital pedagogies in the era of post-truth", paper to be presented to PGRA Conference: Crossing Boundaries: Beyond and Across Academia, Canterbury Christchurch University, 22nd May 2019.


Moore, J (2023) ‘The New Language of Music Theory in the Digital Age’ in YouTube and Music: online culture and everyday life Rogers, H; Freitas, J and Porfírio, J eds. London: Bloomsbury Academic. ISBN 9781501387272.

Moore, J (2021) ‘”You Know Too Damn Much”: Music Theory Knowledge as a Para-Musical Component in the Construction of Identities in RMA/KVNM Postgraduate Proceedings 2020 Amsterdam, July 2020 available at: ISBN 978 906 375 232 3.


My research interests are centred around music theory discourses in the digital age with a particular focus on music theory on YouTube. I also look music learning and social media, music education and music’s role in the construction of identities.


Prof Kenneth Smith and Dr. Richard Worth