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Film Music: A Research Guide

The Library of Congress houses thousands of film scores and other materials related to film production dating back to the 1890s. This guide highlights primary and secondary resources for film music research.


John Margolies, photographer. Rialto Theater Tower, Lake Street, Minneapolis, Minnesota. 1984. Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division.

The Performing Arts Reading Room provides access to the Music Division's broad range of film music resources, including a large collection of film scores. These materials can be identified by searching in the Library of Congress Online Catalog, browsing our list of Special Collections, searching within the Finding Aids Tool, combing Copyright Registration records, or searching within the many Databases and Electronic Resources to which the Library subscribes. Please note that several databases are available off-site, but many may only be accessed on-site at the Library or via your local public or academic library.

The Music Division's collections of film scores and books are classified under the "M Class" in the Library of Congress Classification Schedule. The Division's collections also include Special Collections of primary source material that include screenplay drafts, letters, photographs, and other ephemera.

These materials do not include recordings or film reels. For audio/visual materials, please contact the Recorded Sound Research Center and the Moving Image Research Center.

For those unable to visit the Performing Arts Reading Room in person, the Music Division has select Digital Content available, including several Digital Collections and Digital Exhibits with film music material. The Music Division also maintains a blog, In the Muse, which includes regular posts about film music.