The sixth Domain Analysis Clinic—Film Music Taxonomy—was held at our Oregon campus October 19-21, 2023. The clinic began with this statement of purpose: Knowledge organization systems (KOSs) are shaped by the cultures in which they arise (Smiraglia 2014). This is visible in film music in the commercial prerogative that required ordering cues in the early silent film industry. The cues form a taxonomy of requisite film music (diagetic and non-diagetic). Work on film music cues as taxonomy has taken the form of several papers in information and knowledge organization (Smiraglia 2015; Henry and Smiraglia; Smiraglia and Henry 2016a and b, 2018) and has relied on work by Plebuch (2012), Pisani (2014), Rosar (2012), and Van Houten (1992), among others. This work is informed by our 2015-16 project to develop a taxonomy and partial concept map from the Rapée Encyclopaedia, which is maintained here: We hoped to expand earlier work based on these research questions: -What can we learn from comparing other contemporary sources to the taxonomy we (Henry and Smiraglia) developed from Rapée? -What is known about film music classification, taxonomy, etc., and what KOSs might be usefully supported by formal-research? -What is the best starting point for research into “film music taxonomy”? In lieu of being prescriptive, the goal of this research clinic is to assess how film music in all its varied forms is defined, described, and differentiated in the literature and in the public mind. To this end, we engage in ongoing meta-analysis of the extant research corpus, and are creating a series of typologies (taxonomies, ontologies, etc.) that can be used to clarify terminology used and to recognize overlaps as well as gaps in application.


Pisani, Michael V. 2014. Music for the Melodramatic Theatre in Nineteenth-Century London & New York. Iowa City, IA: University of Iowa Press.

Plebuch, Tobias. 2012. “Mysteriosos Demystified: Topical Strategies Within and Beyond the Silent Cinema.” Journal of Film Music 5, nos. 1-2: 77-92.

Rapée, Erno. (1925) 1970. Encyclopaedia of Music for Pictures. New York: Arno Press and New York Times.

Rosar, William H. 2012. “Knowledge Organization in Film Music and Its Theatrical Origins: Recapitulation and Coda.” Journal of Film Music 5, nos. 1-2: 207–15.

Smiraglia, Richard P. 2014. Cultural Synergy in Information Institutions. New York: Springer.

Smiraglia, Richard P. 2015a. “Sounds of Yesterday: Case Study Taxonomy of Topoi from Dutch Silent Film Music.” In Time Is of the Essence: Organizing People, Data, Information and Knowledge as Memory and Participation, Canadian Association for Information Science Annual Conference, University of Ottawa, June 3–5, 2015. Ottawa: Canadian Association for Information Science.

Smiraglia, Richard P. and Joshua A. Henry. 2016a. “Facets Among the Topoi: An Emerging Taxonomy of Silent Film Music.” In Knowledge Organization for a Sustainable World: Challenges and Perspectives for Cultural, Scientific and Technological Sharing in a Connected Society, Proceedings of the Fourteenth International ISKO Conference 27-29 September 2016 Rio de Janeiro Brazil, eds. José Augusto Chaves Guimarães, Suellen Oliveira Milani and Vera Dodebei. Advances in Knowledge Organization 15. Würzburg: Ergon Verlag, 2016, 156-63.

Smiraglia, Richard P. and Joshua A. Henry. 2016b. “Film Music Cues: Visualizing Social Reality Through Music and Film.” In Information Science in our Communities: Reflections on our Work and the People, Places and Institutions Around Us University of Calgary – Calgary, Alberta June 1-3, 2016, Proceedings of the 44th Annual Conference of the Canadian Association for Information Science, ed. David H. Michels and Angela Pollak.

Smiraglia, Richard P. and Joshua A. Henry. 2018. “From Romance to Mysterioso: The Population of a Taxonomy of Topoi in the Eyl Collection of Silent Film Music.” Canadian Journal of Information and Library Science 42 no. 1-2: 135-51.

van Houten, Theodore. 1992. Silent Cinema Music in the Netherlands: The Eyl, Van Houten Collection of Film and Cinema Music in the Nederlands Filmmuseum. Buren: Frits Knuf Publishers.


Erdmann-Becce-Brav, Collezione-Cinema


Working from the Rapée taxonomy, the clinic cross-walked cues from Erdmann-Becce-Brav, from a collection of European photoplay cues, and other sources to identify a core cue taxonomy.

In addition, the clinic extracted the faceted film music classification from the Erdmann-Becce-Brav work, and created an extensive crosswalk of cues. As the work of the clinic proceeds these products will appear on IKOS’ website. We were particularly interested in the historical implications of the influences that lie behind the faceted system embedded in the Handbuch. Also, the group observed another implicit knowledge organization system inherent in the incipit titles of the musical works in the Handbuch.

Clinic participants:

Richard P. Smiraglia is Senior Fellow and Executive Director of IKOS.

Joshua Henry is Associate Fellow of IKOS, and member at large of the IKOS Board of Directors. Description & Access Librarian, The University of Oklahoma, Norman, OK.

Michael Harris is Outreach and Statewide Services Librarian, Utah State University Eastern, Price, UT

Marco Targa is Faculty Member, Università della Calabria, Dipartimento di Studi Umanistici