Scott Brandon Murphy

Scott Murphy
  • Professor of Music Theory

Contact Info

220 Murphy Hall
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, 36); Journal of Music Theory (53/1, 67/1); 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, 28/1); Music Theory Spectrum (36/2); MusMat: Brazilian Journal of Music and Mathematics (4/1, 6/2); Perspectives of New Music (25/1); SMT-V: The Society for Music Theory Videocast Journal (5/3, 8/2); Theory and Practice (44), 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.


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


Teach courses in undergraduate and graduate music theory

Selected Publications

Murphy, S. (2024). Tracking Progressions of Heroic Chord Progressions in Recent Popular Screen Media. Film Music Analysis: Studying the Score. Routledge. [978-0367430764].
Murphy, S. (2023). Holst’s Planets: Interplanetary Voyage as Intrapersonal Escape. Intégral - Volume 36.
Murphy, S. (2022). Contextual Dyadic Transformations, and the Opening of Brahms’s Op. 5 as a Variation of the Opening of Schumann’s Op. 14. MusMat: Brazilian Journal of Music and Mathematics - Issue 2 | Volume 6.
Murphy, S. (2022). Hollywood Harmony: Musical Wonder and the Sound of Cinema. Journal of Music Theory - Issue 1 | Volume 66.
Murphy, S. (2022). Three Audiovisual Correspondences in the Main Title for Vertigo. Music Theory Online - Issue 1 | Volume 28.
Murphy, S. (2022). Clara Schumann's op. 16 no. 3 and "Fifth Above, Third Below": Discerning Inverted Canonic Potential. The Society for Music Theory Videocast Journal - Issue 2 | Volume 8.
Murphy, S. (2022). “Buxtehude Beats Bach? Qualifying a Canonic Claim”. SMT-Pod - Issue 1 | Volume 1.
Murphy, S. (2019). “Fifth Above, Third Below”: Discerning Canonic Potential. The Society for Music Theory Videocast Journal - Issue 4 | Volume 5.
Murphy, S. (2018). A Remarkable Non-Duplication of Stretto in J.S. Bach's "The Art of Fugue". Music Theory and Analysis (MTA) - Issue 1 | Volume 5.
Murphy, S. (2016). Cohn’s Platonic Model and the Regular Irregularities of Recent Popular Multimedia. Music Theory Online - Issue 3 | Volume 22.
Murphy, S. (2014). A Pop Music Progression in Recent Popular Movies and Movie Trailers. Music, Sound, and the Moving Image - Issue 2 | Volume 8.
Murphy, S. (2013). In the Beginning of Penderecki's Paradise Lost. twentieth-century music - Issue 2 | Volume 10.
Murphy, S. (2009). Metric Cubes in Some Music of Brahms. Journal of Music Theory - Issue 1 | Volume 53.
Murphy, S. (2008). A Composite Approach to Ives's ‘Cage’. twentieth-century music - Issue 2 | Volume 5.
Murphy, S. (2007). On Metre in the Rondo of Brahmss Op. 25. Music Analysis - Issue 3 | Volume 26.
Murphy, S. (2007). Considering Network Recursion and Bartók’s “Fourths”. Music Theory Online - Issue 3 | Volume 13.
Murphy, S. (2007). A Model of Melodic Expectation for Some Neo-Romantic Music of Penderecki. Perspectives of New Music - Issue 1 | Volume 45.
Murphy, S. (2006). The Major Tritone Progression in Recent Hollywood Science Fiction Films. Music Theory Online - Issue 2 | Volume 12.
Murphy, S. An Approach to Scales in Some Twenty-First Century Television Music. Scoring Peak TV. Routledge.

Selected Presentations

"Structural and Expressive Differences Between the “Tarnhelm” and the “Vader”" - Music and the Moving Image XVIII. Location: New York University. (5-27-2022).
“Some Early 21st-Century Television Music Through the Lens of Non-Diatonic Scales” - Scoring Peak TV Conference. Location: Royal Northern College of Music; Manchester, England. (7-15-2022).
“Some Western Music as Economic” - McGill University. Location: Montreal, Canada. (11-22-2022).
“Some Early 21st-Century Television Music Through the Lens of Non-Diatonic Scales” - University of Missouri - Kansas City. Location: Kansas City, MO. (9-30-2022).
Masterclass on Chromatic Tonal Harmony in Film Music - University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. Location: Cincinnati, OH. (11-29-2022).
"Negotiating Normality and Novelty on Two Levels: Model-Composition Pedagogy, Chromatic Tonal Sets, and Some Aspects of Josephine Lang’s ‘Ich gab dem Schicksal dich zurück’ (1868)" - American Musicological Society and Society for Music Theory National Conference. Location: New Orleans, LA. (11-13-2022).
The Conclusion of Liszt’s Les préludes as Precedent for Two Harmonic Strains of Post-1950 Hollywood Heroism, via Flash Gordon and The Lone Ranger - Society for American Music Annual Conference. Location: Minneapolis, MN. (3-11-2023).
The Role of Screen Music in the Music Theory Classroom - Music and the Moving Image Annual Conference. Location: New York, NY. (5-27-2023).
Duplex Syncopation Classes and Spaces, and Their Application to Western Popular Song - MÚSICA ANALÍTICA: Interdisciplinary Approaches to Musical Time. Location: University of Coimbra; Coimbra, Portugal. (10-12-2023).
Two Shorter Lectures on Western Music and Optimization: Common Scales / Manifold Stretto - Eastman School of Music Theory Colloquium. Location: Rochester, NY. (10-13-2023).
Situating Gospel's Inverted M2m - Society for Music Theory National Conference. Location: Denver, CO. (11-10-2023).
M4m as Loss in Recent Entertainment and News Media - University of Iowa. Location: Iowa City, IA. (11-16-2023).


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