Joshua Banks Mailman grew up in NYC in the dangerous decades of the 1970s and 80s. Although the recorder was forced on him by music teachers at an earlier age, he began playing the guitar at age ten. He attended F.H. LaGuardia High School of the Arts, taking up the viola. While in high school he played guitar in the Junior Jazz Ensemble, and viola in several student orchestras, including the All-City Orchestra, led by Jonathan Strasser.
During this period he studied viola, jazz guitar, and classical guitar.
As a guitarist improviser, he organized his own electric jazz ensemble for which he also composed music. While in high school he also attended the Manhatten School of Music Summer Jazz Workshop, the National Guitar Summer Workshop and, at the Courant Institute of NYU, an experimental course in computer programming for high school students.
Joshua Mailman attended the University of Chicago (B.A.,1995) where he majored in philosophy, taking several courses also in music and mathematics. As a philosophy major, he studied under Ted Cohen (aesthetics, logic), Leonard Linsky (analytical philosophy, philosophy of language) and others including Arnold Davidson, Josef Stern, and William Tait . In addition to a diversity of core curriculum courses, Joshua also took music courses with Charles Rosen, Richard Cohn, Robert Morgan, and Anne Shreffler.
While in Chicago, Joshua played viola in the University of Chicago Orchestra and Prism Orchestra. He was the Program Director of University of Chicago's radio station WHPK 88.5 FM, where he also served as an announcer.
Returning to NYC, Joshua Mailman then studied database design and software programming (C, C++) at Baruch College (CUNY) and piano at Greenwich House Music School, while working in medical statistical research.
For several years Joshua Mailman studied and taught music theory at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, NY. He completed a masters degree (2003) and Ph.D. (2010) in music theory (dissertation advisor: Robert Morris).
Professors with whom Joshua Mailman took music theory and musicology courses at Eastman are Robert Morris, Elizabeth West Marvin, Dave Headlam, Robert Wason, Matthew Brown, Norman Carey, Ciro Scotto, Aleck Brinkman, Steve Laitz, Daniel Harrison, Gabriela Currie (Ilnitchi), and Gretchen Wheelock.
He also, to a limited extent, studied organ and piano formally and informally while at Eastman.
In the Yale Summer Course at the Arnold Schoenberg Center, in Mödling and Vienna, Austria, Joshua studied analysis of Schoenberg's atonal music with Allen Forte.
Joshua Mailman has taught in the Theory Department of Eastman, in the College Music Department of University of Rochester, in the School of Music of University of Maryland, College Park, and in the music departments of Hunter College of the City University of New York (CUNY), NYU's Steinhardt School, University of Alabama School of Music, and Columbia University.
Subjects taught range from fundamentals, tonal harmony, counterpoint, form and analysis to post-tonal theory, analysis, and aural skills, Schenkerian analysis, music criticism, seminars on analysis of Beethoven and Schubert, on analysis of Carter, Berio, Reich, and Saariaho, as well as an interdisciplinary graduate seminar on his dissertation topic: temporal dynamic form.
Joshua Mailman has also been active as a music journalist, program annotator, and editor. While living in Rochester, he wrote regularly for the Rochester City Newspaper and the American Record Guide.
He tutored students in writing at the Writing Center of the Eastman School, and was reviews editor of the music theory journal Integral. In Spring 2011 and Spring 2012, he taught Music Criticism (a music journalism course for musician graduate students) at NYU's Steinhardt School.
Scholarly (academic) papers by Joshua Mailman are published in Music Theory Spectrum, Psychology of Music, Music Theory Online, the Journal of Sonic Studies, Music Analysis, , Perspectives of New Music, TEMPO, Leonardo Electronic Almanac, and in the book Music and Narrative Since 1900, in the Musical Meaning and Interpretation series from Indiana University Press. In 2013 a co-authored essay appeared in the book Sound, Music and the Moving-Thinking Body.
He has presented at conferences of the Society for Music Theory (SMT), the Society for Music Perception and Cognition (SMPC), the Society for Music Analysis (SMA), Music Since 1900 (ICMSN), the Music Theory Society of New York State (MTSNYS), the Music Theory Society of the Mid-Atlantic (MTSMA), the Northeast Music Cognition Group (NEMCOG), The Legacy of Milton Babbitt: Post-WW II Serialism in the Americas (Wright State University, Ohio), Music, Mind, and Invention (The College of New Jersey), Music and the Moving-Thinking Body (University of London), Music: Cognition, Technology, Society (Cornell University), Sound and Music Computing (9th annual), Music and Philosophy: Time Theories and Music (Ionian University, Corfu, Greece), Skin-Surface-Circuit: Embodying the Improvisatory (ICASP-McGill Center for the Critical Study of Improvisation), and European Music Analysis Conference (EuroMAC) 8 (Leuven, Belgium) and 9 (Strasbourg, France)
Among the awards Joshua has received for his research: His paper "An Imagined Drama of Competitive Opposition in Carter's Scrivo in Vento" won Music Analysis's 25th Anniversary Competition in 2008.
He was chosen to receive a Mellon, Woodrow Wilson fellowship for Humanistic Studies at Columbia University and he was awarded an honorable mention for the Jerald Graue award for excellence in musicology at the Eastman School (for his research papers on Hermannus Contractus's interval notation and rhetorical phrase expansion in Haydn's music).
Joshua Mailman is primarily based in NYC where he continues to write and lecture on music theory and analysis and develop interactive music and computer graphics technologies, while he also has been teaching music theory, while composing, playing jazz and classical piano, once in a while playing Renaissance music on the tenor recorder, singing in a choir and a Renaissance sight-singing group, and occasionally struggling to play the didjeridoo and the Gagaku hichiriki (double reed). For the summer of 2014 he received a grant from Columbia University's Institute for Medieval Japanese Studies / Japanese Cultural Heritage Initiatives mentor/protegé program to study Gagaku (Japanese court music) intensively for six weeks, in Tokyo, Japan, studying the hichiriki (double reed), primarily with Hitomi Nakamura sensai.
He has been living in NYC, where he, since earning his Ph.D. in 2010, has been teaching at Columbia University, in the 2010-12, 2013-15 academic years (as well as NYU, Fordham, Hofstra, Hunter College, CUNY, and William Paterson Universities). For the 2012-13 academic year he taught as Visiting Assistant Professor in the Music Department at University of California in Santa Barbara (UCSB). During the 2015-17 academic years he was a full-time instructor of music theory at University of Alabama, School of Music, Tuscaloosa. As of Fall 2017 he is teaching at Columbia University again.