Scott Murphy

Professor, Music Theory
Director, Division of Music Theory & Music Composition
Primary office:
220 Murphy Hall

Ph.D. Eastman School of Music; M.M. University of Kansas; M.M. University of Kansas; B.M. University of Kansas; B.M. University of Kansas

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.

He has published articles on a variety of topics, including new approaches to works by Haydn, Ives, Bartók, and Penderecki. But much of his current research concentrates on film music analysis and new conceptions of meter, especially with regards to the music of Brahms. His research appears in the journals Intégral; Journal of Music Theory; Music Analysis; Music, Sound, and the Moving Image; Music Theory Online; Music Theory Spectrum; Perspectives of New Music; and Twentieth-Century Music; and in the books Oxford Handbook of Film Music Studies, Terror Tracks, and The Music of Fantasy Cinema. He has presented his research at conferences in Austria, Belgium, England, Germany, Italy, South Korea, Portugal, and Scotland, as well as in many places through North America. He has been invited to speak at many universities, including Florida State University, University of Chicago, University of Texas (Austin), and Yale University.

He is the current and founding editor of SMT-V: Videocast Journal of the Society for Music Theory.​ He also currently serves on the Intégral editorial board, 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.

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 

Selected Research


  • “A Pop-Music Progression in Recent Popular Movies and Movie Trailers” Music, Sound, and the Moving Image 8/2 (October 2014): 141-162
  • “Scoring Loss in Some Recent Popular Film and Television” Music Theory Spectrum 36/2 (Fall 2014): 295-314
  • “Scoring Loss Across the Multimedia Universe” OUPblog: Oxford University Press's Academic Insights for the Thinking World (December 2014) Click here for more information.»
  • “In the Beginning of Penderecki's Paradise Lost” Twentieth-Century Music 10/2 (September 2013), 231-248
  • “Septimal Time in an Early Finale of Haydn” Intégral 26 (2012): 97-130
  • “Brahms’s Op. 32/4 With a Twist” Newsletter of the American Brahms Society 27/2 (Fall 2009): 1-5
  • “Metric Cubes in Some Music of Brahms” Journal of Music Theory 53/1 (Spring 2009): 1-56
  • “A Composite Analysis of Ives's 'Cage'” Twentieth-Century Music 5/2 (Fall 2008): 175-193
  • “A Model of Melodic Expectation in Some Neo-Romantic Music of Penderecki” Perspectives of New Music 25/1 (Winter 2007): 6-42
  • “On Metre in the Rondo of Brahms’s Op. 25” Music Analysis 26/3 (October 2007): 323-353
  • “Considering Network Recursion and Bartók’s ‘Fourths’” Music Theory Online 13/3 (September 2007) Click here for more information.»
  • “The Major Tritone Progression in Recent Hollywood Science Fiction Films” Music Theory Online 12/2 (May 2006) Click here for more information.»

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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