He graduated from the University of Utah in 1974 with a bachelor's degree in music theory and in 1975 with a master's degree in music theory. He received a PhD in composition from the University of Iowa in 1978. He was hired onto the Music Faculty at BYU later that year.
Early in his career, he joined the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP) whose Standards Awards Panel has cited his compositions 19 times. In addition to his journal articles on music theory, he authored "Beginning Tonal Dictation" published by Waveland Press. Now in its second edition and currently in use at BYU, this successful workbook has been adopted by over 60 colleges and universities throughout the country. In 2004, Waveland published the successor to that book, "Advanced Tonal Dictation."
Dr. Durham is active as a consultant with Educational Testing Service and Advanced Placement, and has participated as a Question Leader for the Music Theory AP Exam since 1998. He has published over 20 reviews online of music theory and ear training materials. At present, he serves as Associate Director of the School of Music, and as Executive Director of the Barlow Endowment for Music Composition. He is married to the former Rebecca Christensen, has three children and five grandchildren.
Durham, along with fellow BYU faculty members Christian Asplund and Steven Ricks received the 2004-2005 American Society of Composers Authors and Publisher Award. The award is designed to recognize prestigious composers whose area of composition does not yield significant royalties.