As a writer and researcher on music, Ethan is interested primarily in the history, repertoire, techniques, and aesthetics of contemporary music, both of the American experimental tradition and the European avant garde. His recent work focuses on the musical aspects of language, emphasizing the overlaps between music and language that manifest themselves in sound poetry and contemporary vocal music. His research—as well as much of his recent compositional work—focuses in part on phonetics and the sonic features of the spoken voice, as well as the use of nonsensical texts in musical settings.
Ethan has also taught on popular music subjects, most recently teaching courses on the music/music culture of Jamaica, and the history of alternative rock musics. His most recent project, a book for the 33⅓ series, is an examination of the use of nonsensical texts in Sigur Rós' ( ), and their effects on musical experience.
Since September 2014, Ethan has been the editor of the Center for 21st Century Music's Edge of the Center blog.