Danuta Mirka

Primary position:
Reader in Music


The University of Southampton

Danuta Mirka studied music theory in Poland and earned a PhD in musicology at the University of Helsinki, Finland. In 2001-02 she was Senior Fulbright Fellow at Indiana University, Bloomington, and in 2002-06 Humboldt Fellow and Research Fellow of the DFG (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft) at the University of Freiburg, Germany, where she obtained her further qualification (Habilitation). Before coming to the University of Southampton, Danuta taught at the Szymanowski Academy of Music in Katowice, Poland.

In her dissertation/book, The Sonoristic Structuralism of Krzysztof Penderecki (1997), she reconstructed the technique employed in the composer's 'sound mass' compositions of the early 1960s. From Polish contemporary music she moved to the study of musical communication in the late 18th century.

She organised the workshop 'Communicative Strategies in Music of the Late Eighteenth Century', held in July 2005 in Bad Sulzburg, Germany, and, together with Kofi Agawu, is the editor of the collection Communication in Eighteenth-Century Music (Cambridge University Press, 2008) based upon papers presented at that workshop. Her book Metric Manipulations in Haydn and Mozart: Chamber Music for Strings, 1787-1791 (Oxford University Press, 2009), won the 2011 Wallace Berry Award of the Society for Music Theory. Her articles have appeared in The Journal of Musicology, Journal of Music Theory, Music Theory Online, Eighteenth-Century Music, The American Journal of Semiotics, Semiotica, and The Musical Quarterly. She serves on the editorial boards of the Journal of Music Theory, Music Theory Spectrum and Eighteenth-Century Music.

Dr Danuta Mirka's photo



Metric Manipulations in Haydn and Mozart: Chamber Music for Strings, 1787-1791 (New York: Oxford University Press, 2009).

The Sonoristic Structuralism of Krzysztof Penderecki (Katowice: Akademia Muzyczna, 1997).

Edited books

(Ed. with Kofi Agawu), Communication in Eighteenth-Century Music (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008).

Articles in peer-reviewed journals

'Absent Cadences', Eighteenth-Century Music 9/2 (2012), 213-235. 

‘Punctuation and Sense in Late-Eighteenth-Century Music', Journal of Music Theory 54/2 (2010), 235-282.

'The Cadence of Mozart's Cadenzas', The Journal of Musicology 22/2 (2005): 292-325.

'Das Spiel mit der Kadenz', Die Musikforschung 57/1 (2005): 18-35.

'Górecki's Musica geometrica', The Musical Quarterly 87/2 (2004): 305-332.

'To Cut the Gordian Knot: The Timbre System of Krzysztof Penderecki', Journal of Music Theory 45 (2003): 433-454.

'Texture in Penderecki's Sonoristic Style', Music Theory Online 6/1 (2000), online access

Colors of a Mystic Fire: Light and Sound in Scriabin's Prometheus', in Signs in Musical Hermeneutics, ed. Siglind Bruhn  (special issue of The American Journal of Semiotics, no. 13, 1996 [1998]): 227-248.

Articles in collections

'Meter, Phrase Structure and Manipulations of Musical Beginnings', in Communication in Eighteenth-Century Music, ed. Danuta Mirka and Kofi Agawu (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008), 83-111.

'Penderecki's Sonorism against Serialism', in Studies in Penderecki 2, Penderecki and the Avant Garde, ed. Ray Robinson and Regina Chlopicka (Princeton: Prestige Publications, 2003), 199-209.

'The Passion According to Penderecki', in Voicing the Ineffable, ed. Siglind Bruhn (Hillsdale, NY: Pendragon Press, 2002), 189-230.

'Species, Theories, Styles', in Commentationes in Honorem Thomas A. Sebeok Octogenarii, ed. Eero Tarasti (Imatra: International Semiotics Institute, 2000), 92-104.

'Dodekatonikos grozis' [The Beauty of Dodekatonika] (= Postscript to the Study 'Dodekatonika' by Osvaldas Balakauskas), in Osvaldas Balakauskas: Muzika ir Mintys, ed. Ruta Gaidamaviciute (Vilnius: Baltos Lankos, 2000), 202-206.

'Young Penderecki and Fuzzy Sets', in Music and Signs: Semiotic and Cognitive Studies in Music (= Systematica Musicologica 2), ed. Iannis Zannos (Berlin and Bratislava: ARCO Art and Science, 1999), 503-514.

'Idea korespondencji w poemacie symfonicznym Morze Mikalojusa Konstantinasa Ciurlionisa' [The Idea of Correspondences in the Symphonic Poem The Sea by Ciurlionis], in W kregu muzyki litewskiej, ed. Krzysztof Droba (Cracow: Akademia Muzyczna, 1997), 13-27.

'Piekno Dodekatoniki' [The Beauty of Dodekatonika] (= Postscript to the Study 'Dodekatonika' by Osvaldas Balakauskas), in W kregu muzyki litewskiej , ed. Krzystof Droba (Cracow: Akademia Muzyczna, 1997), 161-165.

'Some Semiotic Problems of Penderecki's Sonoristic Style', in Musical Semiotics in Growth (= Acta Semiotica Fennica IV), ed. Eero Tarasti (Imatra and Bloomington: International Semiotic Institute & Indiana University Press, 1996), 73-82.

Articles in conference proceedings

'Tonal Function and Metrical Accent Revisited', in Proceedings of the 13th International Congress of the German Musicological Society, Weimar, 16-21 September 2004 [forthcoming].

'Vorwärts hören - rückwärts hören: Zur Wahrnehmung metrischer Irregularitäten in Streichquartetten Joseph Haydns', in Musiktheorie an ihren Grenzen: Neue und Alte Musik. 3. Internationaler Kongress für Musiktheorie, ed. Angelika Moths (Bern: Peter Lang, 2009), 409-18.

'Komunikacja muzyczna w stylu póznym: Reguly i strategie' [Musical Communication in Late Style: Rules and Strategies], in Styl pózny w muzyce, literaturze i kulturze (= Proceedings of the Interdisciplinary conference under the same title, Katowice, 6-8 December, 2000), ed. Wojciech Kalaga and Eugeniusz Knapik (Katowice: Slask, 2002), 131-137.

'Musical Style: A System and a Game', in Proceedings of the Seventh Congress of the International Association for Semiotic Studies, Dresden, 1999, ed. Walter Schmitz (Dresden: Dresden University Press, 2001).

'Theosophical Hieroglyph: On the Symphonic Poem Prometheus by Alexander Scriabin', in Musical Signification: Between Rhetorics and Pragmatics (= Proceedings of the Sixth Congress of Musical Signification, Bologna, November 1996), ed. Gino Stefani, Eero Tarasti, and Luca Marconi (Bologna: Cooperativa Libreria Universitaria, 1998).

'Sonorystyczny strukturalizm Krzysztofa Pendereckiego' [The Sonoristic Structuralism of Krzysztof Penderecki], in Muzyka polska 1945-95 (= Proceedings of the conference 'Muzyka polska 1945-95', Cracow, 12-16 December 1995), ed. Krzysztof Droba, Teresa Malecka, and Krzysztof Szwajgier (Cracow: Akademia Muzyczna, 1996), 235-247.

Other articles

'Co kazdy kompozytor wiedziec powinien: Fizjologia i ekologia sluchacza w zarysie' [What Every Composer Should Know: Physiology and Ecology of the Listener], Ruch Muzyczny 44/14 (2000): 11-18; and 44/15 (2000): 10-14.

'Semiotines Krzysztofo Pendereckio sonoristinio stiliaus problemos' [Semiotic Problems of Krzysztof Penderecki's Sonoristic Style], Baltos lankos 9 (1998): 151-163.

'Przeciac wezel gordyjski: System kolorystyczny Krzysztofa Pendereckiego' [To Cut the Gordian Knot: The Timbre System of Krzysztof Penderecki], Dysonanse 3 (1998): 2-11.

'Góreckiego musica geometrica' [Musica geometrica of Górecki], Dysonanse 1 (1998): 20-30.

'Atitikimo Ciurlionio Simfonineje Poemoje Jura' [The Idea of Correspondences in the Symphonic Poem The Sea by Ciurlionis], Kulturos barai 8-9 (1995): 63-66.

'Teozofia, muzyka i swiatlo: O funkcji swiatla w poemacie symfonicznym Prometeusz Aleksandra Skriabina' [Theosophy, Music and Light: On the Light Function in Scriabin's Prometheus], Zeszyt Naukowy 4 (Bydgoszcz: Akademia Muzyczna, 1993):/ /71-90.

Reviews and review articles

'Analyzing Haydn's Quartets', review of Floyd Grave and Margaret Grave, The String Quartets of Joseph Haydn (New York: Oxford University Press, 2006), Early Music 35/1 (February 2007): 122-125.

'Toward a Theory of Metrical Consonance', review article of Justin London, Hearing in Time: Psychological Aspects of Musical Meter (New York: Oxford University Press 2004), Journal of Music Theory 48/1 (2004 [2007]): 293-304.

'Naomi Cumming's Sonic Self', review article of Naomi Cummings, The Sonic Self: Musical Subjectivity and Signification (Bloomington: Indiana University Press 2000), Semiotica 142 (2002): 433-446.

'Czy istnieje muzyczna ekphrasis?'/ /[Is There a Musical Ekphrasis?], review article of Siglind Bruhn, Musical Ekphrasis (Hillsdale, NY: Pendragon Press, 2000) and Musical Ekphrasis in Rilke's Marien-Leben (Amsterdam and Atlanta: Rodopi 2000), Ruch Muzyczny 15 (2001): 21-22.



Research Interests

Danuta's research interests are music theory and analysis, music semiotics, 18th-century music and Polish music since 1950.

She is particularly interested in integrating aspects of historical music theory with those of contemporary music-theoretical research including cognitively-oriented music theory and cognitive musicology. In her book Metric Manipulations in Haydn and Mozart: Chamber Music for Strings, 1787-1791 (Oxford University Press, 2009), she applies this approach to the study of meter and rhythm. The subsequent book will be a study of hypermeter and phrase structure in late 18th-century music. Other aspects of musical communication that interest her include musical topics and forms analysed in theoretical terms of the late 18th century. She is the editor of The Oxford Handbook of Topic Theory to be published by Oxford University Press.

Affiliate research group:  Musicology and Ethnomusicology


Dr Danuta Mirka
Building 2
Department of Music
University of Southampton
SO17 1BJ

Room Number: 2/2005

Telephone: (023) 8059 3721
Facsimile: (023) 8059 3197