School of Music Katherine Leo

Associate Professor

Katherine M. Leo (Ph.D., 2016, Musicology, The Ohio State University; J.D., 2015, The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law) joined Millikin University in 2017 as assistant professor of music. In this role, Dr. Leo serves as coordinator of musicology and music theory and Chair of Academic Music studies in the School of Music, where she teaches a variety of traditional, hybrid, online, and travel courses in western commercial and art music histories, ethnomusicology, and music-legal issues. Dr. Leo is a research advisor for the James Millikin Scholar (JMS) honors program and was recipient of the 2021 JMS Educator of the Year award. She also contributes to the Millikin-Decatur Symphony Orchestra (MDSO) as author, speaker, and cellist.

Dr. Leo’s research investigates the intersection of music and legal histories in the US, with emphases on matters of authorship and originality as well as musical style and similarity in the context of federal copyright litigation. As a specialist in the US music industry and early-twentieth-century US commercial musics, Dr. Leo has written about player pianos, Duke Ellington, the Original Dixieland Jazz Band, and Paul Whiteman. Her 2021 monograph on the history of musical expert testimony, Forensic Musicology and the Blurred Lines of Federal Copyright History (Lexington | Amazon), has been praised for being “meticulously researched, and sparely and clearly written.” Her research on forensic musicology has been included in collected works for musical and legal audiences, notably including Grove Music Online (OUP), Musical Borrowing and Copyright Law: A Genre-By-Genre Analysis (Bloomsbury-Hart), and the Oxford Handbook of Public Music Theory (OUP). Dr. Leo’s research has been featured in the peer-reviewed journals Jazz Perspectives, Blue Light, Music and Politics, and the Journal of Music History Pedagogy.

As an active academic and forensic musicologist, Dr. Leo has notably presented at annual national meetings of the American Musicological Society, the College Music Society, the Society for American Music, and the Society for Music Theory, as well as at international jazz conferences hosted in Austria, England, and Germany. She has signed amicus curiae briefs in multiple high-profile federal music copyright lawsuits and serves as a contributor to the acclaimed Music Copyright Infringement Resource (MCIR) blog.

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