Scott Murphy

School of Music - Music
Primary office:
Murphy Hall, 220
University of Kansas
1530 Naismith Drive
Lawrence, KS 66045-3103


Scott Murphy has taught music theory at the University of Kansas since 2001. He holds a PhD in Music Theory from the Eastman School of Music of the University of Rochester, and MM degrees in both Musicology and Music Composition and BM degrees in both Music Theory and Music Composition from the University of Kansas. He won two teaching awards from the University of Rochester and three teaching awards from KU, including the 2009 Byron Shutz Award for Excellence in Teaching. In this same year, he was named the Emerging Scholar by the Society for Music Theory (SMT).

He has published articles on a variety of topics, including new approaches to works by J.S. Bach, Haydn, C. Schumann, Ives, Bartók, Myaskovsky, and Penderecki, on film music analysis and new conceptions of musical time, especially with regards to the music of Brahms. His research appears in the journals Intégral (26); Journal of Music Theory (53/1); Music Analysis (26/3); Music, Sound, and the Moving Image (8/2); Music Theory and Analysis (5/1); Music Theory Online (12/2,13/3, 22/3); Music Theory Spectrum (36/2); MusMat: Brazilian Journal of Music and Mathematics (4/1); Perspectives of New Music (25/1); SMT-V: The Society for Music Theory Videocast Journal (5/3); and Twentieth-Century Music (5/2, 10/2); and in the books Analytical Approaches to 20th-Century Russian Music: Tonality, Modernism, Serialism; Oxford Handbook of Film Music Studies; Terror Tracks; and The Music of Fantasy Cinema. He edited Brahms and the Shaping of Time, a collection of essays analyzing rhythmic and metric aspects of selected works of Brahms, published by University of Rochester Press in 2018. The following year, this volume received the Outstanding Multi-Author Collection Award from SMT.

He was the founding editor of SMT-V: Videocast Journal of the Society for Music Theory. He also currently serves on the executive board of the American Brahms Society and on the editorial board of the journal Intégral, and previously served on the editorial boards of Music Theory Online and Journal of Film Music. He is a past president of Music Theory Midwest.


Ph.D., Music Theory, Eastman School of Music of the University of Rochester


Teach courses in undergraduate and graduate music theory


Conduct research in music theory, to be disseminated in the form of books, book chapters, journal articles, conference presentations, and invited lectures


Serve the academic institution at division, school, and university levels, and serve the discipline through adjudication of research, and leadership roles

Selected Publications

Murphy, S. (2019). Fifth Above, Third Below: Discerning Canonic Potential. SMT-V: Society for Music Theory Videocast Journal.

Murphy, S. (2018). A Remarkable Non-Duplication of Stretto in J.S. Bach’s The Art of Fugue. Music Theory and Analysis, 5(1), 57-81.

Agmon, E. Cohn, R. Krebs, H. McClelland, R. Miyake, J. Murphy, S. Ng, S. Platt, H. & Samarotto, F. (2018). Brahms and the Shaping of Time, Rochester, NY: University of Rochester Press.

Murphy, S. (2018). Durational Enharmonicism in the Opening of Brahms’s “Double Concerto”. In . (Ed.), Brahms and the Shaping of Time.

Murphy, S. B. (2016). Cohn’s Platonic Model and the Regular Irregularities of Recent Popular Multimedia . Music Theory Online , 22(3).

Murphy, S. (2014). A Pop-Music Progression in Recent Popular Movies and Movie Trailers. Music, Sound, and the Moving Image, 8(2), 141-162.

Murphy, S. (2014). Scoring Loss in Some Recent Popular Film and Television. Music Theory Spectrum, 36(2), 295-314.

Murphy, S. (2013). In the Beginning of Penderecki's Paradise Lost. Twentieth-Century Music, 10(2), 231-248.

Murphy, S. B. (2013). Transformational Theory and the Analysis of Film Music. In D. Neumeyer (Ed.), Oxford Handbook of Film Music Studies (pp. 471-499). Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Murphy, S. (2012). Septimal Time in an Early Finale of Haydn. Intégral, 26, 97-130.

Murphy, S. B. (2012). The Tritone Within: Interpreting Harmony in Elliot Goldenthal’s Score for "Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within". In J. Halfyard (Ed.), The Music of Fantasy Cinema (pp. 148-174). London: Equinox Publishing.

Murphy, S. B. (2009). An Audiovisual Foreshadowing in "Psycho". In P. Hayward (Ed.), Terror Tracks: Music and Sound in the Horror Film (pp. 47-59). London: Equinox Publishing.

Murphy, S. B. (2009). Metric Cubes in Some Music of Brahms. Journal of Music Theory , 53(1), 1-56.

Murphy, S. B. (2008). A Composite Approach to Ives’s ‘Cage’. Twentieth-century music , 5(2), 179-193.

Murphy, S. B. (2007). A Model of Melodic Expectation for Some Neo-Romantic Music of Penderecki. Perspectives of New Music , 25(1), 184-222.

Murphy, S. B. (2007). Considering Network Recursion and Bartók’s ‘Fourths’. Music Theory Online , 13(3).

Murphy, S. B. (2007). On Metre in the Rondo of Brahms’s Op. 25. Music Analysis , 26(3), 323-353.

Murphy, S. B. (2006). The Major Tritone Progression in Recent Hollywood Science Fiction Films. Music Theory Online, 12(2).

» Show All Publications

Selected Awards & Grants


  • Society of Music Theory's Emerging Scholar Award
  • University of Kansas Edwin Shutz Award for Excellence in Teaching


  • University of Kansas Mortar Board Outstanding Educator Award


  • KU Center for Teaching Excellence Teacher Appreciation Recognition


  • University of Rochester Edward Peck Curtis Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching by a Graduate Student


  • Eastman School of Music Teaching Assistant Prize for Excellence in Teaching


  • University of Kansas Anthony B. Cius Music Composition Award

Selected Professional Experience


  • Professor, University of Kansas, 2015 - present
  • Associate Professor, University of Kansas, 2007-2015
  • Assistant Professor, University of Kansas, 2001-2007
  • Instructor, Eastman School of Music, 2000-2001

Other Professional Experience

  • Director of Music and Service Organist, Trinity Emmanuel Lutheran Church, Rochester, NY, 1998-2000
  • Director of Music and Interim Organist, Central United Methodist Church, Lawrence, KS, 1993-1997 

Book Chapters

  • “Transformational Theory and the Analysis of Film Music” In The Oxford Handbook of Film Music Studies, edited by David Neumeyer (Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2013): 471-499
  • “The Tritone Within: Interpreting Harmony in Elliot Goldenthal’s Score for Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within” In The Music of Fantasy Cinema, edited by Janet Halfyard (London: Equinox Publishing, 2012): 148-174
  • “An Audiovisual Foreshadowing in Psycho” In Terror Tracks: Music, Sound, and Horror Cinema, edited by Philip Hayward (London: Equinox Publishing, 2006): 47-59


  • Review of Audacious Euphony: Chromaticism and the Triad's Second Nature, by Richard Cohn. Journal of Music Theory, 58/1 (Spring 2014): 79-101

Courses currently or recently taught include:


  • Eighteenth-Century Counterpoint
  • Theory III (Tonal Chromatic Music)
  • Tonal Form and Post-Tonal Techniques


  • Advanced Tonal Form
  • Analysis of Chromatic Tonal Music
  • Computers in Music Research
  • Film Music Analysis
  • Introduction to Schenkerian Analysis
  • Meter and Form in Brahms
  • Music and Mathematics 



How to Imitate a Whole Lot of Hollywood Film Music In Four Easy Steps


Excerpts from "Geometrizing Meters in Three Dimensions"

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