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Sound on Screen III: Music and Sound in Transmedia Franchises

Posted: May 3rd, 2024 | Filed under: Calls for Papers | Comments Off on Sound on Screen III: Music and Sound in Transmedia Franchises

Wednesday 3rd July 2024
Oxford Brookes University

The Departments of Music and Film at Oxford Brookes University are pleased to invite abstracts to present at a study day centred on “Music and Sound in Transmedia Franchises”. This study day seeks to delve into the intricate relationship between music, sound, and transmedia franchises across diverse media platforms. Co-convened by the collaborative effort of the Sound on Screen research network and Dr Tim Summers and Will Farmer, this study day will offer the opportunity to respond to an initial provocation (see below). As well as hosting formal papers, this study day offers the opportunity to partake in a group critical analysis task and discussion. Delegates who are not presenting are invited to take part in the critical discussion.

We invite abstracts for papers, each limited to 20 minutes, on a variety of subjects pertaining to music, sound, and transmedia franchise, with the provocation in mind. The study day will feature no more than six papers in total. Additionally, poster presentations are welcomed.

Topics of interest include, but are not limited to:

  • The transcendence of music across film, television, video games, and other media formats.
  • The role of sound design in constructing transmedia narratives.
  • Adaptation of sonic narratives across different media platforms.
  • Sonic interactivity and immersion in transmedia storytelling experiences.
  • The integration of music and sound in virtual and transmedial augmented reality environments.

Abstracts, not exceeding 300 words, should incorporate a title for the presentation, a preferred presentation format (oral presentation or poster presentation), and an indicative bibliography, and be submitted via email to [email protected] by Friday 10th May, 23:59.

In-person attendance is expected due to the collaborative nature of the activity, but a remote viewing option may be available for the formal papers. Prior to the study day, a pre-recorded video will be made available for viewing.

Expanded versions of the papers presented may be considered for a special issue of a journal.


The multimedia franchise is a cornerstone of contemporary popular culture. As a franchise connects texts and diversifies content across media boundaries, the music and sound establish expectations for its sonic identity. Audio is one of the ways in which a franchise is articulated and navigated by audiences. Advancing technologies and on-demand services have made transmedial proliferation prevalent in the modern media landscape, though audiovisual franchises have a long history dating back to the advent of broadcasting. Franchises encompass film, television, video games, and radio, but also include a multitude of further sonic possibilities such as theme parks, fan gatherings, audiobooks, merchandise, toys, and unofficial (yet often popular) fan contributions such as fanfilms, cosplay, and filk (fan songs).

This non-linear and ever-expanding way of engaging with content raises questions on how audiences hear and understand connections across the franchise. Sound operates across franchise materials in both overt and subtle ways, creating a complex web of connections which exist beyond thematic replication (though this remains a helpful way to link iterations). Scholarly work for theorising music and sound in the franchise is an active site of discussion. We have tentatively proposed one model: a franchise’s ‘musical register’ offers a label for consistent and identifiable sonic gestures (this might include instrumentation, orchestration conventions, harmonic language, timbre, etc.) which are less granular than melodic quotations or specific harmonic progressions, and can be charted alongside the musical ‘transformations’ audiences encounter as they explore the franchise space. Similarly, Dan White has explored ‘suturing’ to help explain how musical ideas are stitched together across texts, while James Buhler has investigated music and studio branding as sonic transmedial connection. Scholars including Todd Decker, Jonathan Godsall, Janet Halfyard, Ron Rodman, Jamie Webster, and Ben Winters have used specific franchises as illuminating case studies. Yet there are many more questions, alternative approaches and challenges to be explored.

We must also account for moments where music seems to be wholly, or partially, at odds with the established sound world and the potential issues this creates. The diversity of production and corporate contexts leads to questions surrounding the different strategies for deploying music across a franchise. We must consider where we can adopt or adapt existing theories, or where new ideas are needed to help us understand musical approaches and results. Media franchises continue to be commercially significant, creatively rich, and emotionally meaningful to viewers. Research helps us to understand both the practical and conceptual challenges faced by creatives, alongside the aesthetic experiences they offer to viewers.

– Tim Summers and Will Farmer