Television, Musical Register, and the Franchise: Continuity and Change

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Abstract

This chapter proposes a model for understanding television music within a broader franchise space, exploring how continuity and change operates both within, and across, television series. Specifically, this framework proposes the concept of a musical register for analysing such musical intertextuality in television and beyond.

More specific than genre, a musical register serves as a coherent, but ever-developing musical identity for a franchise. Our concept of register identifies musical practice which is flexible enough to evolve over time but remains sufficiently consistent to serve as a musical thread between fragmented elements of a franchise. This adaptable sonic language can develop alongside changing televisual aesthetics, even traversing media boundaries to film and video games, whilst satisfying fan expectations. Our model accounts for musical connections that are broader and more complex than explicit musical recapitulation, but remain distinctive enough to link texts. As franchises continue to be central to mass-market corporate entertainment strategies, this model illuminates how music serves as part of that creative and business agenda, as well as the implications of franchise music for producers, composers and fans. While this approach is applicable to a wide range of franchise contexts, this chapter will use the case study of the Star Trek television series to illustrate our model of a franchise’s musical register.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationOxford Handbook to Music and Television
EditorsJames Deaville, Jessica Getman, Brooke McCorkle Okazaki, Ron Rodman
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2025

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