The Past, Present, and Future of the Collections of Cinema and Media Music Database


  • Michael W Harris Utah State University
  • Jeff Lyon Brigham Young University
  • Heather Fisher Saginaw Valley State University
  • Joshua Henry The University of Oklahoma
  • Sienna M Wood



film music databases, film music primary resources, film music archives, libraries, finding aids


For many scholars, critical analysis of film and media music is stymied by a lack of published or manuscript materials, and discoverability of such materials is many times hampered by how archival materials are cataloged. While numerous composers have deposited their papers at libraries and archives across the globe, discovery of these collections has occurred via citations in books and articles, or word-of-mouth between scholars.

This is because archival collections are cataloged with a focus on the creator of the collection and not the individual object (such as a book or manuscript score). Therefore, if the score or other materials for a film are in a collection of a studio, or someone other than the composer themselves, they might be hard, if not impossible, to find without a lot of searching or a stroke of luck. Adding to the difficulty is that some of these collections are not fully indexed or searchable, so many materials remain hidden under a century of backlogged archival processing.

In order to address this problem, the Collections of Cinema and Media Music (C2M2) has been designed, built, and populated by a small team spread across the United States. This paper will discuss the design and implantation of C2M2, with a focus on the task of creating a custom metadata schema that addresses the unique issues of film and media music, and the myriad of ways a researcher might try to access a particular score. It will also show the reader how the metadata functions and displays within the database, with discussions of the challenges inherent in a project of this scope.

As research into film and media music continues to expand, scholars are clamoring for access to materials to expand their research beyond the realm of music–film relationships and into areas reliant on archival materials. In such a world, tools such as C2M2 will be critical in creating the ease of access that will eliminate the barriers that hamper such work.

Author Biography

Michael W Harris, Utah State University

Michael W. Harris is a librarian, archivist, and musicologist, whose research looks at information history and theory, along with film and popular music. He currently works as assistant professor, research and instructional services librarian, at the University of Memphis in Tennessee. His articles, essays, and reviews have appeared in Cinema Journal, Asian Music, the Journal of the Society for American Music, Middle West Review, and Flow, and he has presented papers at Music and the Moving Image, the annual meetings of the Society of Cinema and Media Studies and the Society for American Music, and at numerous regional conferences around the United States. You can learn more about his work at:


Greene, Mark A., and Dennis Meissner. 2005. More product, less process: Revamping traditional archival processing. The American Archivist 68, no. 2: 208-63. DOI:

Lyon, Jeff, and Brent Yorgason. 2021. Cataloging Max Steiner: A corpus study of film scores. Journal of Film Music 9, nos. 1–2: 23-42. DOI:

Pool, Jeannie, and H. Stephen Wright. 2010. A Research guide to film and television music in the United States. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press.

Rosar, William H. 2010. Film studies in musicology: Disciplinarity vs. interdisciplinarity. Journal of Film Music 2, nos. 2–4: 99-125. DOI:



How to Cite

Harris, M. W., Lyon, J., Fisher, H., Henry, J., & Wood, S. . M. (2022). The Past, Present, and Future of the Collections of Cinema and Media Music Database. Journal of Film Music, 10(2), 142–152.