LI Ka Chi Edwin
Assistant Professor, Musicology
204, Hui Yeung Shing Building
BA (HKU); AM, PhD (Harvard)
Global music theory and musicology; intercultural philosophies of music; Cantonese popular music; Gustav Mahler
Edwin Li is Assistant Professor of Musicology at The Chinese University of Hong Kong. His scholarly work, often straddling disciplinary boundaries, focuses on intercultural philosophies of music, semiotics, aesthetics, affect, Cantonese popular music, and Gustav Mahler.

Li's current book project, Border Listening: Decolonizing Western Art Music from Hong Kong (under contract with Oxford University Press), engages with stories of translation, affect, historiography, and music analysis to explore the paradox and ambivalence in decolonizing Western art music from Hong Kong. Border Listening argues for the importance of recognizing that non-Western epistemologies are by no means a totalizing, innocuous (re)solution to the decolonial aspiration in music studies and beyond, but can be, in turn, objects of decolonization. More broadly, Border Listening calls attention to the layered, chaotic, and situational nature in decolonizing Western art music, as it unravels many forms of domination, marginalization, and reaction from a (post)colonial city.

Li's work has been supported by grants from the Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies and the Society for Music Theory, and by, among others, the Kaplan Fellowships in Music at Harvard. He has presented on a wide array of topics at international conferences held in Asia, Europe, and North America, ranging from Chinese and Western philosophies of music to video game music, from semiotic theories to Chinese contemporary music. He currently serves as Deputy Chair for Society for Music Theory's Global Interculturalism and Musical Peripheries Interest Group.
In 2021, Li received the Adam Krims Award from the Society for Music Theory's Popular Music Interest Group for his article, "Cantopop and Speech-Melody Complex," published in Music Theory Online in the same year. His interest in the relationship between music and language has led to the collaborative work with Aaron Carter-Ényì and David Aina on a cross-cultural theory of tone-tune mappings (Analytical Approaches to World Music). He has also written on the concept of nature in nineteenth-century western music theories (Ecomusicology Review), the video game Line Rider (Journal of Sound and Music in Games), Mahler and contemporary affect theories (Music & Letters), and topics ranging from topic theory to hermeneutics in edited volumes. Li is co-convening with Anna Yu Wang (Princeton University) and Chris Stover (Griffith University) a special issue in Music Theory Online (forthcoming) on translations of music-theoretical sources from under-represented languages.

Li was a Jockey Club Scholar at The University of Hong Kong, where he obtained his B.A. in Music with First Class Honors, and a Pembroke-King's Scholar at the University of Cambridge. He earned his Ph.D. in Music Theory from Harvard University, where he received numerous times the Certificate of Distinction in Teaching from the Derek Bok Center for Teaching and Learning.

Selected Publications
Border Listening: Decolonizing Western Art Music from Hong Kong. Under contract with Oxford University Press.

Journal Articles:
"Theorising Affect in Mahler." Music & Letters (forthcoming).

"Music as Language of the Upper Realm: Li Tsing-chu's A General Treatise on Music (1930/1933)." Music Theory Online 30, no. 4 (forthcoming).

"Towards a Cross-Cultural Theory of Tone-Tune Mappings: A Comparative Study of Cantonese and Yorùbá." Analytical Approaches to World Music 12 (forthcoming). Co-authored with Aaron Carter-Ényì and David Àiná.

"Line Rider and Ludomusical Excesses." Journal of Sound and Music in Games 5, no. 1 (2024): 1–23.

"Cantopop and Speech-Melody Complex." Music Theory Online 27, no. 1 (2021).

"Eco-Music Theory." Ecomusicology Review 7 (2019).

Book Chapters:
"Hermeneutic Mischief and the Affect of Sonic Remainder." In Music and the Politics of Censorship, ed. James Garratt (Turnhout, Belgium: Brepols, forthcoming).

"Integrationism and Music Theory's Resistance." In Semiotics 2019: New Frontiers in Semiotics, ed. Geoffrey Ross Owens and Donna West, 101–14. Charlottesville, VA: Philosophy Documentation Center, 2020.

List of Recent Courses Taught
  • MUSC5103 Music and Popular Culture in Hong Kong
  • MUSC3243 History of Western Music: Special Topic IV (Early Mahler)
  • MUSC6357 Topic in Musicology I (Early Mahler)
  • MUSC3233 History of Western Music: Special Topic III (Cantopop and Musicological Perspectives)
  • MUSC3432 Tonal Music Analysis
  • MUSC4513 / 4523 Senior Pedagogy Project