Ralph began his education in the state sector in Scotland and at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, where he studied double bass, piano, and composition. He went on to receive a first-class bachelor's degree and master's degree with distinction from King's College, London. His master's dissertation there, supervised by Prof. Roger Parker, considered Hanns Eisler's film music ideals and practices.
Ralph has presented papers on his research on the early history of sound recording, music and silent film, and Richard Strauss's American reception. Other interests include visualizations of music and music making in early twentieth-century New York.
He enjoys teaching "Masterpieces of Western Music" at Columbia and is a member of the editorial board for Current Musicology.
Before beginning his PhD at Columbia, Ralph spent a year working at legal publisher, LexisNexis, where he was a commissioning editor.