Jay Arms

Ph.D. Candidate

Jay completed his Bachlors of Music in classical guitar performance in 2011 at UCSC, also completing an optional thesis entitled "Improvisational Models of Social Political Collectivity." He immediatly continued into the Ph.D. program in cross cultural musicology where he studies with Amy Beal. His research tends to focus on indeterminate and improvisatory repertoires and incorporates solo and ensemble performances of the music. In 2012-13, Jay completed his Master's thesis entitled "The Music of Malcolm Goldstein," for which he incorporated both archival and field research spending time with the composer. Other notable projects include:

  • "Gendering Art Music: A NEw Interpretation of Nam June Paik and Charlotte Moorman's Opera Sextronique" (2013), which focuses on the intersection of gender politics and the context of the Western Art music canon.
  • "Where Indeterminacy Meets Improvisation: Recording Cornelius Cardew's For Stella" (2013), in which he recorded four distinct realizations of a rare guitar piece.
  • "Creating a Language: Derek Bailey's Dichotomy of Improvisation" (2011), which interogates Bailey's dichotomy by comparing the guitarist's method to saxophonist Anthony Braxton's.
  • "John Zorn's Contextualization Kristallnacht" (2011), which investigates the extra musical framing of this compelling work.
  • "John Cage's Maoism" (2011), which contextulizes the little understood Maoist sentiments of Cage.


Grad Student
Education and Training: 
BM Classical Guitar UC Santa Cruz
MA Music UC Santa Cruz
Selected Recordings: 


"Songs and Dances: Music for Classical Guitar," perf. Jay Arms (Jay Arms, 2012), compact disc.


Selected Presentations: 


  • “Sound as a Physical Reality:” Malcolm Goldstein with the Judson Dance Theater. Paper presented at the Northern California Chapter Meeting of the American Musicological Society, Davis, California (February 16, 2013) and the annual conference for the Society of American Music, Little Rock, Arkansas (March 7, 2013)
  • “I Consider Myself More of a Maximalist:” The Pedestrian Music of Malcolm Goldstein. Paper accepted to the International Conference for Minimalist Music, Long Beach, California (October, 2013).


Teaching Interests: 

20th Century Music

Experimental Music

Avant Garde



Graphic Notation

Musical Theater

Music History

Music and Politics

Music Theory

Honors and Awards: 
  • Porter College Teaching Fellowship, Porter College, University of California, Santa Cruz, 2014
  • Hortense Zuckerman Prize for Outstanding Achievement in Music Scholarship and Performance. Department of Music, University of California, Santa Cruz, 2011
  • Eagle Scout Award. Mt. Diablo-Silverado Council, Boy Scouts of America, 2005