Andrew Niess, PhD
audiovisual researcher | instrument maker | editor



Based in Evanston, Illinois, I am a cross-disciplinary researcher with interests in the vital politics of listening in an era of climate crisis, the history of philosophies of music, comparative metaphysics, and theorizing music and sound through instrument design and performance.

I completed my PhD in music studies at the University of Pennsylvania (May 2022), where I was awarded the Mellon Dissertation Fellowship for 2020–21 by the Penn Program in Environmental Humanities.

My work participates in a long tradition of music theory as a practice of worldly sensemaking. Such cosmological interrogation seeks to broaden the objects and methods of music theoretical analysis by focusing on the vital politics of attunement amid the climate crisis. Through prose, instrument making, filmmaking, and performance, my multimodal research integrates theory and practice. My modular dissertation, “Reorienting Sonic Creativity amid Ecological Disorientation,” can thus be read, played, breathed, heard, and viewed. 

Breath is a critical site for interrogating place, coexistence, and conditions of livability. As such, I design and build instruments, including one that links one’s breath to realtime air quality conditions in three user-specified cities.

My published research appears or is forthcoming in the Oxford Handbook of Protest Music, Ecopedagogies (Routledge 2022), and the Journal of Japanese Studies (2024). My course, “Audiovisual Climate Research,” has been adopted at institutions such as the University of Pennsylvania Music Department.

I am also an independent editor offering line editing, developmental editing, indexing, and other manuscript preparation services to improve my clients’ books, articles, and professional documents across a range of academic disciplines.

Updated October 2022



Headshot of Andrew Niess against colorful background.