Artusi

Artusi is named for one of music’s great curmudgeons, the 16-17th century composer and theorist Giovanni Maria Artusi. G. M. Artusi insisted on following rules and learning by rote, and Artusi the software helps instructors teach just that—we help you do the mechanical stuff so you can spend more time on the creative stuff. Giovanni, who attacked Claudio Monterverdi’s innovations as the sign of alarmingly decadent decay in musical standards, might be horrified by our innovation of using digital tools, but he’d be really happy that we help you learn counterpoint. Like, really really happy.

Artusi was founded in early 2018 with the mission of helping people around the world learn and teach music theory, both to improve the overall level of music theory knowledge, but also to save time for students and instructors to devote to the more creative aspects of music, including music making in all forms. Artusi was first devised by Professor Michael Scott Cuthbert.

Artusi concert mashup

Team

Michael Scott Cuthbert, PhD

Myke Cuthbert image

Chief Music Officer

Michael Scott Cuthbert, but less formally, Myke, is a musicologist, music theorist, computer musician, digital humanist, and lapsed clarinetist and composer. Myke teaches music theory and history at MIT as an Associate Professor and Faculty Director of Digital Humanities. He’s the creator of the music21 toolkit for computational musicology and its javascript sidekick music21j. Myke loves teaching theory but was bothered by the fact that so much of what he was teaching was disconnected from the process of hearing and making music. So he started making digital tools for music theory on the side and slowly integrated them into his classes along with MIDI keyboards and other computer tools and here we are. When Jessamyn—his partner in 14th-century Italian studies—said she’d like to take what he was doing, team up with “the only person with more crazy energy than her” (i.e. Logan; and she was right), and make it public, how could Myke say no? Plus he wanted to work with Ryaan, whom he knew from hacking music21 to study Monteverdi years ago.

Ryaan Ahmed, MM

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Chief Technical Officer

Ryaan Ahmed is a professional musician, music director, full-stack developer, and entrepreneur. Ryaan met Myke when Ryaan was an undergrad at Harvard, where Ryaan studied computer science and music, played in the Erwin Bodky Award-winning Harvard Baroque Chamber Orchestra, led the Early Music Society, and was the 2010–2011 director of the Harvard-Radcliffe Collegium Musicum Chamber Singers. Ryaan holds a Master’s degree in early music from the Eastman School of Music, where he studied lute with Paul O’Dette and was supported by the Paul and Daisy Soros Fellowship for New Americans. As a freelance musician, Ryaan has worked with the Welsh National Opera, English Touring Opera, Shakespeare's Globe Theatre, and many other early music groups and opera companies. Ryaan started a tutoring business in college, which he still runs, and has been involved in a number of tech startups.

Joseph VanderStel, MA

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Vice President of Technology

Joseph VanderStel is a music theorist, web developer, and educator based in Rochester, New York. He is currently writing a dissertation on syncopation in 20th-century American popular music at the Eastman School of Music, where he teaches music theory and web design. Joseph has published in Psychology of Music (2019), and presented at the Society for Music Perception and Cognition (2013, 2015, 2017) as well as the International Society for Music Information Retrieval (2018). As a web developer, Joseph is motivated chiefly by the desire to improve how musicians learn their craft. To this end, he has committed most waking hours of his adult life to the advancement of new web-based tools that make music theory more accessible and engaging.

Jessamyn Conrad, PhD

Jessamyn Conrad image

Chief Executive Officer

Jessamyn Conrad is a writer, historian, and communications professional who went to university with Myke. However, Jessie and Myke only became friends when they re-met in Florence, when Myke was on a post-doc and Jessie was doing dissertation research in art and architectural history. Jessie’s academic work considered the interactions among painting, architecture, politics, and finance in Trecento Siena. Jessie finished her PhD at Columbia University, but wound up working as a research analyst at a hedge fund. While there, she met Logan through a mutual friend and law professor, but their friendship was really sealed when they went to the Hamilton birthday party that year at the Museum of Finance. There was ice cream cake. This was before the musical, and it was all very weird. Jessie is now a senior consultant at a strategic communications firm. Jessie’s first book, on politics, has gone into three editions, and she continues to write on arts and history and to lecture at the Cloisters, the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s museum of medieval art. Jessie is an enthusiastic audience member and loves early music, baroque, some opera, bluegrass, early country, and the American songbook. Jessie also has a thing for lutes.

Logan Beirne, JD

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Chief Financial Officer and Chief Operating Officer

Logan Beirne is a lawyer, professor, writer, and entrepreneur. Jessie’s long time partner in crime, Logan teaches corporate law at Yale, where he also studied as an Olin Scholar. Logan founded Matterhorn Transactions, a tech company that digitizes M&A documents for thousands of law firms and banks across the US, UK, and Canada. Logan’s first book, Blood of Tyrants: George Washington, the Forging of the Presidency, explored how George Washington shaped the institution of the American presidency and won the 2014 William E. Colby Award. Logan conducted a Fulbright at Queen’s University before working in investment banking at JP Morgan as an attorney at Sullivan and Cromwell. Logan is a frequent speaker on early American history and has appeared on ABC, Fox, History Channel, C-SPAN, NPR, and other media outlets. His writing has appeared in The Wall Street Journal, Reuters, The New York Post, The Huffington Post, USA Today, The Daily News, and The Washington Times.

Darren LaCour, PhD

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Theory & Support Specialist

Darren LaCour is a lapsed-rock guitarist who discovered music theory, classical music, and jazz while an undergraduate at Xavier University. After completing his Honors Bachelor of Arts degree in Classics and Philosophy, he took a hard pivot into Music Theory, earning his PhD from Washington University in St. Louis. He focuses his research on the unique blend of composition and collaboration in music of Duke Ellington, though most of his energies are reserved for teaching. He currently teaches the four-semester music theory sequence at Lindenwood University in St. Charles, Missouri, though he has also taught courses at Washington University in St. Louis and Webster University.

Frustrated by the impossibility of offering detailed and timely feedback on his students' music theory assignments with a growing course load, Darren sought to leverage technology to aid his students' learning and found Artusi. Impressed by the software's ability to evaluate counterpoint and harmony and voice-leading exercises, he adopted the program in his courses in Spring 2019 and has been an avid user since. Because of his experience using the software, he was brought on in Fall 2019 to assist in content creation and instructor support. Darren really believes in the potential for Artusi to enhance student learning while also freeing up the instructor's time focus on the things that matter—the latter point being one for which his wife and daughters would vouch.

Joel Rust, MMus

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Theory & Support Specialist

Joel Rust is a PhD candidate in Composition and Music Theory at New York University. His scholarly focus is sound and the city in the early twentieth century, through the lens of the music of Edgard Varèse; he has received a Dean’s Dissertation Fellowship and the Patricia Dunn Lehrman Fellowship to support his research. He is developing an opera about human relationships with the environment, entitled The Conifers, with poet David Troupes, which has been supported by a Jerwood Opera Writing Fellowship at Snape Maltings. His other works run the gamut from liturgical choral music to interactive sound installations, and feature on recordings by Discantus, The Hermes Experiment, and the Choir of King’s College, London. He has taught several music theory courses at NYU, and was delighted with how Artusi made things easier for his students, and for himself.

Julia Cavallaro, MusM

Julia Cavallaro image

Theory & Support Specialist

Julia Cavallaro is a freelance musician, graphic designer, and arts administrator. As an opera singer and choral artist, she has performed with leading ensembles in the US, including the Handel and Haydn Society, Boston Early Music Festival, Boston Modern Orchestra Project, Boston Opera Collaborative, and New Camerata Opera. She has toured internationally with the choirs of Trinity Church in the City of Boston, singing in residence at Westminster Abbey and the Cathedrals of Salisbury, Wells, and Winchester. As an administrator and designer, she has worked for Harvard University and Tufts University, and is currently serving as Interim Administrative Coordinator of the Tufts University Department of Music. Julia received her bachelor's degree in music from Harvard College and master's degree in vocal performance from Boston University. She and Ryaan have been friends since they met as undergrads at Harvard, where they sang in Baroque and Renaissance chamber ensembles together. She was intrigued by the concept of Artusi when Ryaan first mentioned it to her back in 2018, and she is thrilled to be a part of the team now, providing support to music theory instructors and students from across the globe.