campus wide alert

David Lee Fish

Chair, Music Department /  Associate Professor of Music / Director, Music Business/Popular Music Concentration / Coordinator, Music TechnologyDavidFish.JPG


Dr. David Lee Fish, Ph.D., serves as the chair of the Music Department as well as the director of both the college's Popular Music and Music Business degree concentrations. He is also the current chair of the Association for Popular Music Education, a national organization he helped found that is made up of leading colleges and universities with programs of study in that area. At Catawba, Fish teaches courses on music business, songwriting, the theory of popular music, music technology, and world music. He also directs the Vernaculars, a contemporary popular ensemble.

native of Tucson, Arizona, David Lee Fish began playing saxophone at the age of eleven. He continued study of the instrument at Western Michigan University with Trent Kynaston, earning there both the Bachelor and Master of Music degrees. After graduation, he moved to Los Angeles to pursue a career as a saxophonist and music copyist and worked for such clients as Don Ellis and CBS Television. As a saxophonist, Fish has also performed with Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, Pearl Bailey, Louise Belson, Cher, the Temptations, and the Miracles and has appeared at the Montreux Switzerland Jazz Festival.

Fish studied ethnomusicology under Willam Malm and Judith Becker at the University of Michigan, where he earned the Ph.D. in musicology (1994). As part of his studies, Fish conducted fieldwork on Shinto festival music in Tokyo for three years during the late 1980s. In Tokyo, he studied shinobue flute, taiko drum and Japanese lion dance with Taneo Wakayama, Professor Emeritus of the Tokyo National Conservatory and fourth generation leader of a troupe of Shinto performers honored by the Japanese government as one of that nation’s Important Intangible Cultural Assets.

Fish served on the faculty of St. Andrews Presbyterian College in Laurinburg, North Carolina from 1990-2000. He earned there the rank of tenured Associate Professor and chaired the college's Music Department from 1991. Among his accomplishments at St. Andrews, he founded the college's interdisciplinary Electronic Fine Arts Studio and the St. Andrews Japanese Festival Ensemble. The ensemble performed widely, with its final appearance being at the 2000 National Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington, DC.

An active scholar, Fish is the author of Jazz Then and Now (Music Alive!) and twelve articles and the general bibliography in Popular Musicians (Salem Press, 1999). His article on stage fright, "Make the Butterflies Fly Away" appeared in the November 2013 issus of In Tune Monthly. Fish has also given papers at a number of national and regional conferences, including The Great Lacuna: Rationale for the Teaching of Contemporary Popular Music (2004 College Music Society National Conference) and First Do No Harm (2012 Association for Popular Music Education National Conference). In 2013, he received a fellowship to study traditional Korean music at the International Gugak Center in Seoul.