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Harold Powers

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Title: Harold Powers  
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Subject: Hypophrygian mode, Octave species
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Harold Powers

Harold Stone Powers (August 5, 1928 – March 15, 2007) was an American musicologist.

Powers attended Stanford University and then Syracuse University, where he received a BMus in 1950. He obtained his Ph.D. from Princeton University in 1959 after studying music theory under Milton Babbitt and Edward T. Cone, and musicology under Oliver Strunk and Arthur Mendel. After teaching at Princeton (1955–1958) and Harvard University (1958–1960) he taught at the University of Pennsylvania; from 1973 he was full professor at Princeton.

Powers's dissertation was on raga music; he studied in India in 1952–1954, 1960–1961 and 1967–1968. He also made contributions in the field of Italian baroque opera. Powers's interest in music theory led him to publish extensively on the concept of mode; his exhaustive study published in the 1980 edition of The New Grove was a landmark work of scholarship on the subject.


  • The Background of the South Indian Rāga-System (dissertation, Princeton U., 1959)
  • (ed.) Studies in Music History: Essays for Oliver Strunk (Princeton, NJ, 1968)
  • William Ashbrook and Harold Powers, "Puccini's Turandot: The End of the Great Tradition" (Princeton, NJ, 1991)


  • Paula Morgan, "The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians online.
  • Obituary

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