In the fall of 1981, I was the greenest, most naïve young music theorist you can possibly imagine. The ink on my doctoral diploma was still wet, and I had just started my first job, at the University of Wisconsin. It was a simpler, less demanding time for music theorists: I had never attended a conference, much less presented at one. But I found myself at the 1981 meeting of the newly formed Society for Music Theory in Los Angeles, giving my first-ever theory paper. I recognized Milton Babbitt, the keynote speaker for the conference, sitting right in front of me, in the first row. Seated next to him was an imposing, large man with a bushy, white beard (Bob Morris, as it turned out, but I didn’t know that at the time—I told you I was green). When my paper ended, the imposing, large man with the bushy, white beard asked me a question. I didn’t know much at that time, but I knew enough to know that I didn’t know exactly what I was being asked. When the question ended, Babbitt piped up, “Quite right, Bob!”—and I knew I was in big trouble. I muddled through an answer, as people who are out of their league often do, but that was the moment when I began to learn from Bob Morris, and that process has never stopped since. I don’t believe I’ve written a music theory article in the past twenty-five years that didn’t cite Bob and draw on his thinking in some significant way. For someone with intellectual hunger, Bob’s work has provided an endless feast.
Straus, Joseph N., "AN ANALYTICAL EXAMPLE FOR BOB" (2014). CUNY Academic Works.