Film Studies in Musicology

Disciplinarity vs.Interdisciplinarity


  • William H. Rosar University of California, San Diego



film musicology, film music, academic musicology


Since the turn of the 21st century the term “film musicology” has gradually come into use in Anglophone scholarship, though apparently without there being any published definition of its disciplinary scope and methodology in relationship to musicology and film studies, respectively. For example in reviewing the 2004 critical study Hollywood Theory, Non-Hollywood Practice by Annette Davison, Leslie Andersen comments that “Davison describes [her] research early on as ‘film musicology’ (p. 1) without a definition as to what this is. Is ‘film musicology’ the musicology of film or the study of film music? Davison assumes that the reader understands what this term means without documenting its origin.” A clue can be found on the dust jacket of Davison’s book that quotes praise for the book from Robynn Stilwell: “Annette Davison offers a second-generation approach to film musicology that stands in relationship to the first generation (Gorbman, Kalinak, et al) much as her subject stands to Hollywood cinema—building on, reacting against, making us think about the most basic issues with new critical facilities.” Inasmuch as neither Gorbman nor Kalinak are musicologists, but are film scholars by virtue of academic training and professional discipline, and the et alia to whom Stilwell alludes are disciplinarily anonymous, how did film musicology come to be constituted as a field of scholarly inquiry, if not by musicologists?

Author Biography

William H. Rosar, University of California, San Diego

Film historian-musicologist, founding and current editor of The Journal of Film Music.


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How to Cite

Rosar, W. H. (2010). Film Studies in Musicology: Disciplinarity vs.Interdisciplinarity. Journal of Film Music, 2(2-4), 99–125.



Editorial Essay