Research is the act of discovering and creating knowledge. In Music and Theater Arts at MIT, research takes place through uncovering the history of music and musical cultures, directing shows, performing and interpreting music, acting, planning and building sets, or designing new technologies for music and the stage. MTA research appears in books and articles, online, and on stages and concert halls on campus and throughout the world. Faculty (professors, lecturers, directors, affiliated artists and technical instructors) often involve undergraduate students in their research projects through performances, independent studies, and the Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program (UROP).
Awards received by MTA faculty for their work include the MacArthur fellowship, Rockefeller residencies, Guggenheim awards, Eisner awards, Macdowell and Yaddo residencies, Rome Prizes, Villa I Tatti and Radcliffe fellowships. When not teaching and directing on campus, faculty can be found in activities of creation in New York theaters on and off Broadway, wielding batons for the Tanglewood Festival Chorus or Emmanuel music, composing for the Kronos quartet, BMOP, or Bang on a Can All-Stars, or supervising recordings of their works on labels such as New World, Tzadik, Cantaloupe, or Deutsche Grammophon, presenting at national and international meetings such as the Society for Ethnomusicology, the American Musicological Society (MIT Prof. Emeritus Ellen T. Harris, president), or the International Society for Music Information Retrieval. Support for faculty research comes from organizations such as the National Endowments for the Arts and the Humanities, the Massachusetts Council for the Arts and Humanities, and MIT awards and grants funded by alumni and donors.