About

Kris Shaffer headshotKris Shaffer, PhD (Yale University, 2011), is a Senior Data Scientist and Director of Web Intelligence for Yonder. He co-authored The Tactics and Tropes of the Internet Research Agency, a report prepared for the United States Senate Select Committee on Intelligence about Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election on social media. Kris has consulted for multiple U.S. government agencies, non-profits, and universities on matters related to digital disinformation, data ethics, and digital pedagogy.

Kris is the author of Data versus Democracy: How Big Data Algorithms Shape Opinions and Alter the Course of History, published July 2019 by Apress.

In a former (professional) life, Kris was an academic and digital humanist. He has taught courses in music theory and cognition, computer science, and digital studies at Yale University, the University of Colorado–Boulder, the University of Mary Washington, and Charleston Southern University. He holds a PhD from Yale University.

Kris is a member of the Board of Directors and a former Contributing Editor for Hybrid Pedagogy and the lead author of Open Music Theory ― an open-source, interactive textbook for undergraduate music theory courses.

He also knows how to drive a Zamboni.

Writings

Books

Data versus Democracy: How Big Data Algorithms Shape Opinions and Alter the Course of History. Apress, 2019.

Open Music Theory, "beta" edition. (An open-source, online textbook for undergraduate music theory courses.) Hybrid Pedagogy Publishing, 2014.

Peer-reviewed articles

"Indie, Open, Free: The Fraught Ideologies of Ed-Tech." In Hybrid Pedagogy. June 6, 2017.

"Truthy Lies, Surreal Truths: A Plea for Critical Digital Literacies." In Hybrid Pedagogy. December 8, 2016.

"Hacking the Music Theory Classroom: Standards-Based Grading, Just-in-Time Teaching, and the Inverted Class." In Music Theory Online 21.1 (2015). Co-authors: Philip Duker, Anna Gawboy, Bryn Hughes.

"Love in the Time of Peer Review." In Hybrid Pedagogy, November 22, 2014.

"Problem-Based Learning in Music: A Guide for Instructors, Part 3: Assessing Problem-Based Learning." In Engaging Students: Essays in Music Pedagogy, Vol. 2, 2014.

"Three Lines of Resistance: Ethics, Critical Pedagogy, and Teaching Underground." In Hybrid Pedagogy, July 29, 2014.

"The Critical Textbook." In Hybrid Pedagogy, May 1, 2014.

"Pursuing a Social Media Policy that Supports Academic Freedom." In Hybrid Pedagogy, January 31, 2014.

"An Open Letter to My Students." In Hybrid Pedagogy, January 6, 2014.

"Flipping the Classroom: Three Methods." In Engaging Students: Essays in Music Pedagogy, 2013.

"Push, pull, fork: Github for academics." In Hybrid Pedagogy, May 26, 2013.

Republished on the blog Impact of Social Sciences: Maximizing the impact of academic research, from the London School of Economics and Political Science, June 4, 2013.

"Open-source scholarship." In Hybrid Pedagogy, May 22, 2013.

Editor-reviewed articles

"Spot a Bot: Identifying Automation and Disinformation on Social Media." In Data for Democracy, June 5, 2017. Co-author: Bill Fitzgerald.

"#MacronLeaks — how disinformation spreads." In Data for Democracy, May 22, 2017.

"Democracy Hacked: A Massive, Pro-Le Pen Disinformation Campaign Hits Twitter, 4chan, and the Mainstream Media." In Data for Democracy, May 5, 2017. Co-authors: Ben Starling and C.E. Carey.

"The Business of Hate Media: How Google and Facebook make online harassment and disinformation both possible and profitable." In Data for Democracy, April 24, 2017.

"Sockpuppets, Secessionists, and Breitbart: How Russia May Have Orchestrated a Massive Social Media Influence Campaign." In Data for Democracy, March 31, 2017. Co-author: Jonathon Morgan.

"Statistical Variance and Transpositional Analysis: A Commentary on Plazak (2016)." In Empirical Musicology Review 11/1, 2016.

"Homework Is a Social Justice Issue." In Educating Modern Learners, February 9, 2015.

Republished by Hybrid Pedagogy, May 19, 2015.

"Academic Freedom Is for Students, Too." In Educating Modern Learners, January 8, 2015.

"Sustainable Pedagogy." In Educating Modern Learners, December 4, 2014.

"Music Theory Online: A Proposal for Open Peer-Review." In Music Theory Online 20/1, February 2014.

Contributed by invitation to "Perspectives, Play, and Pedagogy: The Hybrid Pedagogy Virtual Unconference." In Hybrid Pedagogy, June 5, 2013.

"Harmonic Syntax in Corpus Studies." In Digital Humanities Now Editor's Choice, January 17, 2012.

"Make Stunning Schenker Graphs with GNU Lilypond." In Linux Journal 140, December 2005.

Dissertation

“Neither Tonal nor Atonal”?: Harmony and Harmonic Syntax in György Ligeti’s Late Triadic Works, Yale University, 2011.

Abstract

A number of works from the latter part of György Ligeti’s career are saturated by major and minor triads and other tertian harmonies. Chief among them are Hungarian Rock (1978), Passacaglia ungherese (1978), “Fanfares” (Étude no. 4 for piano, 1985), and the last three movements of Sippal, dobbal, nádihegedűvel (2000). Ligeti claims that his triadic structures are “neither ‘avant-garde’ nor ‘traditional,’ neither tonal nor atonal,” and analysts commonly characterize these pieces as making use of the “vocabulary” but not the “syntax” of tonal music. The most prolific of these analysts refers to Ligeti’s triads as “context-free atonal harmony . . . without a sense of harmonic function or a sense of history.” However, to date, no detailed analysis of Ligeti’s triadic sequences has been presented in support of these claims. This dissertation seeks to provide such an analysis in evaluation of these claims.

This dissertation takes as its analytical starting point a definition of harmonic syntax based largely on the writings of Leonard Meyer and Aniruddh D. Patel: harmonic syntax involves principles or norms governing the combination of chords into successions with those chords, or the kinds of progressions between them, being categorized into at least two categories of stability and instability. With this definition in mind, this dissertation explores the six movements named above, seeking to answer two primary research questions: 1) do these works present what we might call harmonic syntactic structures?; and 2) to what extent are those syntactic structures based in tonal procedures?

Chapter 2 presents a statistical analysis of the triadic structures of the six most heavily triadic works from the latter part of Ligeti’s career, comparing the results to analyses of two tonal corpora. This analysis provides evidence of meaningful, non-random structure to the ordering of Ligeti’s harmonic successions in these movements, as well as significant relationships between the structures of these movements and the representative tonal works. Specifically, Ligeti’s late triadic pieces evidence guiding principles for the ordering of chords into successions, and there is reason to believe that these principles may have their foundation—at least in part—in tonal harmonic practice. Further analysis is required to find categories of stability and instability, or to establish a link of more than correlation between Ligeti’s structures and those of tonal practice. The results of this study also raise specific questions about the harmonic structures of individual movements, to be explored in subsequent analysis.

Chapters 3–5 explores these questions and other features of the harmonic structures of these six movements through direct analysis of the scores of these movements and, where appropriate and available, the precompositional sketches preserved for these movements. The analyses of Chapters 3–5 confirm the conclusion of Chapter 2 that there are meaningful syntactic structures in these movements. Both principles for the ordering of chords into successions and categories of stability and instability can be found in these movements, though these principles and categories may not be the same for each movement.

In sum, we can say with confidence that in these six movements, Ligeti composed meaningful harmonic successions, that those successions can be said to be syntactic, that the structures of those successions and the properties of those syntaxes have a strong relationship with some fundamental aspects of the successions and syntax of common-practice tonal music, that Ligeti was aware of that relationship, that Ligeti intended that relationship, and that understanding that relationship is fundamental to understanding the harmonic and formal structures of these works.

Chapter 6 explores the conflict between this conclusion and Ligeti’s pronouncement that his triadic music is “neither tonal nor atonal.” Ligeti’s use of both tonal and atonal elements in his late music can be seen in large part as a response to problems about form and syntax that arose within the serialist tradition, which Ligeti has been addressing in his compositions and articles since the late 1950s. In the latter part of his career, in spite of the fact that he continues to write music in line with his earlier writings on form and syntax, Ligeti desires to be seen as a “late” composer—both in terms of his own career, and in terms of the broader history of music. Thus, while composing music that draws heavily on both tonal and atonal musics of the past, he shifts his rhetoric and states that his music is “neither tonal nor atonal.” The tension between these two strains in his output is fundamental to a complete, nuanced understanding of Ligeti’s music and aesthetic ideology.

Résumé

Profile

Data scientist and open-source intelligence analyst with 15 years experience in quantitative and qualitative data analysis, specializing in developing new metrics and visualization methods for things like authenticity and influence in online discourse. Author of Data versus Democracy and co-author of a report on Russian disinformation in 2016 for the U.S. Senate. Proficient in various methods for natural language processing and machine learning (R and Python). >Work featured in New York Times, CNN, MSNBC, Bloomberg, BuzzFeed News, Slate, and Foreign Policy.

Select projects featured at github.com/kshaffer and github.com/corpusmusic.

Experience

Senior Data Scientist, Director of Web Intelligence, Yonder (formerly New Knowledge), 2018–present

  • Data-driven, open-source intelligence analysis.
  • Model prototyping — developing novel metrics for authenticity and influence in online discourse, using machine learning, natural language processing, behavioral analysis.
  • Client-facing dashboard design, building, and maintenance.
  • Client reports.
  • Press relations.
  • Lead team of six, including external contractors.
  • Co-authored report for U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence on foreign election interference.

Data Scientist and Web Intelligence Analyst, 2017–2018

  • Social media analytics, web scraping, dashboards, data visualization, and written reports for New Knowledge, Sovereign Intelligence, Discourse Intelligence, and Southern Poverty Law Center.

Instructional Technology Specialist & Adjunct Instructor of Computer Science, University of Mary Washington, 2016–2018

  • Developed an analytics dashboard for UMW Domains (over 2500 student & faculty domains) to analyze usage and predict funding & support needs.
  • Systems administrator & analyst for UMW Domains & UMW Blogs (WordPress multisite).
  • Data Science Committee member, planning new masters degree in data science.
  • Teach Intro to Data Science, Digital Storytelling, Intro. to Digital Studies, The Internet.

Instructor of Music Theory & Adjunct Instructor of Computer Science, CU–Boulder, 2013–2016

  • Principal investigator/faculty advisor for research projects using Python, R, cluster analysis, Markov and hidden Markov models, and traditional statistics to model musical and poetic structures: github.com/corpusmusic (repos: bb-cluster & liederCorpusAnalysis).
  • Taught graduate & undergraduate courses in music theory, cognition, and computational analysis.

Education & certifications

Ph.D., M.Phil. & M.A. in music theory, Yale University, 2011

  • First music dissertation at Yale to include computational statistical methods

Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative (CITI) certification, 2015

  • Social Behavioral Research – Investigators and Key Personnel, Human Research

Skills

Data analysis and visualization: quantitative and qualitative analysis of web and business analytics, natural language data, unstructured data.

Data mining and wrangling: web scraping; text mining; data transformation.

Natural Language Processing: Topic modeling, sentiment analysis, social media analytics.

Machine learning: k-means clustering, word2vec, cosine similarity, topic models, Markov models, regression.

Network graph analysis: community detection, clustering, influence and distance metrics.

Database querying: Snowflake, ElasticSearch, MySQL, TeraSoft, RSQLite (databases containing billions of records).

Writing: authored trade book, college textbook, academic journals, enterprise technology websites, trade magazine, internal and client reports.

Software: R (TidyVerse, ggplot2, Shiny), Python (pANDS, SciKit-Learn, GenSim), SQL, APIs, Git/GitHub, Linux/bash.

Languages

Spanish: Advanced reading, intermediate writing and speaking.

German: Intermediate reading and speaking.

Russian: Intermediate reading and beginner speaking.

Music

Below are a number of songs I've written or arranged for congregational worship in Reformed or Reformed Baptist churches. All are free for use in congregational worship services. All other rights reserved on the original compositions (for now).

Original compositions


Arise, My Soul, Arise

Text: Charles Wesley (1742), alt. Kris Shaffer (2009)
Music: Kris Shaffer (2009)
Demo recording: Michelle Hixson

lead sheet in C
lead sheet in D
hymn score in C
hymn score in D
hymn score in E
hymn score in C (no chord symbols)

God of Mercy

Text: Kris Shaffer (2008)
Music: Kris Shaffer (2008)
Demo recording: Michelle Hixson

lead sheet in C
lead sheet in D
hymn score in C
hymn score in D
hymn score in C (no chord symbols)
hymn score in D (no chord symbols)

His by Grace

Text: Kris Shaffer (2009), based on Romans, Chapters 3 and 5
Music: Kris Shaffer (2009)
Demo recording: Michelle Hixson

lead sheet in D
SAT arrangement in D

Satisfied

Text: Kris Shaffer (2010), based on Psalm 22 and Isaiah 53
Music: Kris Shaffer (2010)

hymn score in C
hymn score in D

Secure

Text: Kris Shaffer (2010), based on Isaiah 46 and Romans 9
Music: Kris Shaffer (2010)
Demo recording: Heidi Betts

lead sheet in C
lead sheet in D
lead sheet in E
SAT arrangement in C
SAT arrangement in D

Hymn Arrangements

Below are PDF scores for a number of older hymns I've arranged for use in Reformed or Reformed Baptist worship services. All are free for use in congregational worship services.

What Child Is This

Text: William C. Dix (1865)
Music: Trad. English melody (16th c.), harm. Kris Shaffer (2009)

hymn score in E Dorian
hymn score in E Dorian (no chord symbols)

'Tis Finished! The Messiah Dies

Text: Charles Wesley (1762)
Music: Trad. Welsh melody, harm. Kris Shaffer (2008)

hymn score in E
hymn score in F
hymn score in E (no chord symbols)
hymn score in F (no chord symbols)

The King Shall Come when Morning Dawns

Text: anon., trans. John Brownlie (1907)
Music: Gesangbuch der Herzogl (1784)
(nothing novel here from me besides the text/music combination)

hymn score in G
hymn score in A
hymn score in G (no chord symbols)
hymn score in A (no chord symbols)

Cantique de Noël (O Holy Night)

This is largely the original music, with a new translation of two verses of the original text by Jessica Moyer, a friend from New Haven. The original text was much more explicitly Christian than the common English translation (which was made by a Unitarian), and Jessica's translation preserves that very well. I also arranged several instrumental parts that can be used for a variety of ensembles. Please contact me at first DOT last AT gmail DOT com if you would like those parts, or would like them set for another ensemble type.

Text: Placide Cappeau (bf. 1893), trans. Jessica Moyer (2010)
Music: Adolphe Adam (1847), arr. Kris Shaffer (2010)

hymn score in C
orchestral arrangement score in C

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i = 0;

while (!deck.isInOrder()) {
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    deck.shuffle();
    i++;
}

print 'It took ' + i + ' iterations to sort the deck.';

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