Main Content

MU 242 - Studies in Film Music


The following guide is intended to provide an overview of some of the resources available in the library and online for the study and research of film music. For further research assistance, please take advantage of the reference services available to you in the Geisel Library. Stop by the Reference Desk in person or online at Ask a Librarian.


Research Basics

The reference librarians have created a group of Web pages named Research Help, designed to help teach you the basics of library research and to introduce you to Geisel Library. On the Research Help pages, you will find a guide on Research Basics and a helpful guide about evaluating your Web sources, our guide on Evaluating Websites. Please take advantage of these resources.


Reference Sources for Background Information

Reference books are shelved by Library of Congress call number in the reference stacks near the reference desk. They may not be checked out, but photocopiers are available on the lower level of the Library. Online reference sources can be found in the library catalog, or listed on E-Reference Resources.

Reference materials can provide basic background information on your topic and help you identify keywords for further searching. Many reference resources provide bibliographies at the ends of each entry or volume, which will point you to additional books and journal articles worth exploring. Check for the books in our library catalog, and use Journal Finder to see if the journals are available electronically or in print. The following reference books are good starting points.


Music Reference and Research Materials: An Annotated Bibliography
     Ref ML 113 .D83


New Harvard Dictionary of Music
     Ref ML100 .A64

Oxford Dictionary of Music
     Ref ML100 .K35

Biographical Sources

New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians
     Ref ML100 .N48

New Grove Dictionary of American Music
     Ref ML101.U6 N48

Contemporary Composers
     Ref ML105 .C75

Baker's Biographical Dictionary of 20th Century Classical Musicians
     Ref ML105 .S612

History and Background

Twentieth Century Music
     Ref ML197 .B85

Writing About Music
     Ref ML3797 .W54

A Short Guide to Writing About Music
     ML3797 .B4 2007


Penguin Guide to Compact Discs and DVDs
     Ref ML 156.9 P46

MusicHound Soundtracks
     Ref ML156.9 .M87


Return to top


Electronic Reference Sources

Encyclopaedia Britannica Online
Find background information, keywords, biographies, and bibliographies.

Oxford Reference Online: Performing Arts
        The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Music
        The Oxford Companion to Music
        Please remember to "log out" when finished with this resource.

Credo Reference
        Harvard Biographical Dictionary of Music
        Please remember to "log out" when finished with this resource.


Return to top


Find Books/Secondary Sources

Subject Headings Suggestions for searching the Catalog

Composers by name, last name first.

For example:  Elfman, Danny

Motion picture music

Silent film music

Film composers

Keyword suggestions for searching the Catalog. Consider combining keywords using the connector "and".

  • Name of composer
  • Name of instrument
  • Words in the title of the music
  • Geographic area: Vienna, Paris, Germany, etc.
  • Types of musical form: symphony, sonata, concerto, quartet, orchestral music, vocal music, ballet, opera, etc.

If you are unable to locate materials in the Geisel Library Catalog, search libraries worldwide using WorldCat.


Return to top


Find Journal Articles

MasterFILE Premier
Similar to the Readers' Guide to Periodical Literature, "this multidisciplinary database provides full text for nearly 1,950 general reference publications with full text information dating as far back as 1975. Covering virtually every subject area of general interest, MasterFILE Premier also includes 316 full text reference books, 88,000 biographies, 83,500 primary source documents, and an image collection of 107,000 photos, maps and flags."

Academic Search Premier
Gain access to full-text as well as indexing and abstracting for a wide range of journal titles covering the arts and music, business, social sciences, humanities, general science, and education. Full-text titles include Computer Music Journal; Contemporary Music Review.

Search here for full-text articles from major journals in the humanities and social sciences, including American Music; International Review of the Aesthetics and Sociology of Music; Journal of the American Musicological Society; Latin American Music Review, and others. Coverage is generally from the beginning of publication to within 5 years of the current issue.

Find full-text newspaper articles from local, national and international papers. Gain access to full-text reviews as well as company news and financial information and general reference information.

America: History and Life
Focuses on United States and Canadian history and culture from prehistoric times to the present.

Arts & Humanities Citation Index
Provides indexing to the world's leading arts and humanities journals and selections from social science and science journals. Includes articles, bibliographies, editorials, letters, and reviews. (1980-current)  Does not include full-text of the articles.

New York Times
"The New York Times (1851–2003) offers full page and article images with searchable full text back to the first issue. The collection includes digital reproductions providing access to every page from every available issue."


Return to top


Find Compact Disc Recordings

Geisel Library has an extensive collection of CD recordings that are available for listening in the library as well as for check-out. CDs are located on the lower level of the library, past the government documents. Most recordings of film music will have the classification number MX250 and are alphabetical by the composer's last name.

To find a recording using the Geisel Library Online Catalog:

  • Select Advanced Search
  • Search for the recording by title, or author (composer-last name first)
  • Go to the "Limited to" menu
  • Go to the "Material Type" box and select "Audio Music"
  • Press the submit button or hit Enter

Return to top


Selected Websites

Film Music Websites

Jazz in Film Bibliography from the Library of Congress

ASCAP's Film & TV section

Classics from the Silver Screen Film Music (formerly Film Music Review)

Film Music Institute includes Film Music Magazine and Film Music Network

Film Music Society

Filmtracks: Modern Soundtrack Reviews

Internet Movie Database (IMDb)

Miklós Rózsa article

Silent Era

Silent Film Bookshelf includes Firsthand Accounts; An Atypical 1920's Theater; Orchestral Accompaniment in the 1920's; Music in Motion Picture Theaters the Art of Film and Television Music

Composer Websites

Many composers, both dead and alive, have own websites. Living composers may have their own sites, while organizations that promote the music of deceased composers have websites as well. The sites listed below are representative of what may be found.

Danny Elfman
Jerry Goldsmith
Bernard Herrmann
Erich Korngold
Miklós Rózsa
Nino Rota
Alan Silvestri
Howard Shore
John Williams

Music Reviews and Audio Files

Classical Net
Features reviews of over 2,000 CDs, and offers over 3,800 links to other classical music websites. Includes links to commercial sites (publishers, CD labels), composers, musicians, ensembles and orchestras, festivals, instruments and instrument makers, societies and organizations, etc.


Return to top


Citing Sources

Work cited in this class should use formats as described in the Chicago Manual of Style.


Return to top