John Murphy

Professor Emeritus of Jazz History, former Chair
Retired, effective Jan. 1, 2020.


John Murphy, an ethnomusicologist and saxophonist, joined the UNT Jazz Studies faculty in 2001. He served as chair of the Division of Jazz Studies from Fall 2008 through Fall of 2019. He is the author of Music in Brazil (Oxford University Press, 2006) and Cavalo-marinho pernambucano (Federal University of Minas Gerais, Brazil University Press, 2008) and has published articles on jazz improvisation, Brazilian traditional and popular music, Cuban music in New York, and college teaching. He published the article "Beyond the Improvisation Class: Learning to Improvise in a University Jazz Studies Program," in Musical Improvisation: Art, Education, and Society (2009), edited by Bruno Nettl and Gabriel Solis and presented a paper on ethnomusicologists and noise-induced hearing loss at an annual meeting of the Society for Ethnomusicology. He has held Fulbright (1990-91) and National Endowment for the Humanities (2000-2001) fellowships for research in Brazil.

While a student at the University of North Texas, Murphy earned two degrees (B.M., jazz studies performance, 1984; M.M., music theory, 1986), played in the One O'Clock Lab Band (1984-85), and free-lanced in Dallas-Ft. Worth. He then earned two degrees at Columbia University (M.A. & Ph.D., ethnomusicology) and played Latin music in the New York area. He plays frequently in the Dallas-Ft. Worth area: jazz on tenor saxophone and Irish traditional music on button accordion.

Murphy taught jazz history (undergraduate and graduate), jazz styles & analysis (graduate), and jazz research methods (graduate); and collaborated with the ethnomusicology area by serving on thesis committees. He taught a listening class at the UNT Small Group Jazz summer workshop. He served as chair of the Division of Music History, Theory, and Ethnomusicology from 2006 to 2008; served as Interim Director of Graduate Studies, College of Music, June 2012-May 2013 (while continuing chair service and full-time teaching); served the Society for Ethnomusicology as web editor from 1997 to 2002; and taught previously at Western Illinois University (1992-2001). In 2019 he co-founded, with Dr. Linda Holloway, UNT's Neurodiversity Initiative.

Profile in UNT Faculty Information System.
Website for Music in Brazil: