David Metzer is a historian of twentieth and twenty-first century music. His work covers a variety of genres, including popular music, classical, and jazz. He nimbly jumps from Barry Manilow’s power ballads to songs by Aaron Copland. His research explores cultural issues of race, sexuality, gender, and emotional expression. A new project looks at how musicians have confronted the toll of incarceration in American society and how musical works have shaped understandings of incarceration.
He is the author of The Ballad in American Popular Music: From Elvis to Beyoncé, Musical Modernism at the Turn of the Twenty-First Century, and Quotation and Cultural Meaning in Twentieth-Century Music. The Ballad in American Popular Music: From Elvis to Beyoncé is the first history of the ballad in recent popular music and discusses why these songs have become emotional touchstones in our lives and American society. David has published articles in a wide range of music and interdisciplinary journals, including Journal of the American Musicological Society, Popular Music, Modernism/modernity, and Black Music Research Journal.