Transmusical Storytelling: The Role of Musical Referencing in the Creation of Universes

Diana-Maria Heidemann

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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Spreading content across media is a phenomenon that has grown in popularity over the past couple of decades, a practice that is often dubbed “transmedia storytelling”. While transmedia storytelling is often associated with certain franchises within the entertainment industries, it is also a part of today’s pop-culture and day-to-day lives. This thesis argues for a broader and more inclusive definition of transmedia storytelling by considering its presence and its use in other, lesser examined areas: the music industry, political campaigns, and advertising, as well as its use in individual self-representation online.
In doing so, this thesis pays particular attention to the role of music in the construction of transmedia storytelling – a feature of transmedia storytelling which has been largely overlooked in relevant literature. I argue that music plays an essential role in how content spreads across media, and that, simultaneously, music itself spreads across media, which is an aspect rarely explored in detail in transmedia studies. In light of this critical gap, this project examines music as an elemental agent and considers its subsequent social and cultural effects and impacts. This includes a consideration of the role of music in the construction and expansion of storyworlds, as well as the subsequent influence said storyworlds and their transmedia expansion have on the music and its public perception.
In this thesis, I develop a theoretical framework of musical referencing in relation to textual and visual cues in order to describe and demonstrate the function that music plays in the construction of transmedia worlds, as well as the broader resonances of music across pop-culture – of transmusical storytelling.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Department of Music
  • Tan, Shzr, Supervisor
  • Kelly, JP, Supervisor
Award date1 May 2023
Publication statusUnpublished - 2023


  • transmusical
  • musical references
  • transmedia
  • transmedia storytelling
  • film music
  • pop-culture
  • Royal Holloway
  • Diana-Maria Heidemann

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