City Research Online

Nollywood film music: shades of identity

Sylvanus, E. (2018). Nollywood film music: shades of identity. (Unpublished Doctoral thesis, City, University of London)


Nollywood is the branded name of Nigeria’s unique and globally recognised film industry. For over two decades (since 1992), the products of mainstream Nollywood film and music practitioners have been continually presented as a reflection and representation of the Nigerian society. Yet those creative and cultural underpinnings in Nollywood film music––processes, approach, symbology, commerce, and identity––have remained undocumented. This ethnomusicological research aims to establish verifiable evidence of Nigerian musical culture in the actions and inactions, assertions, and subversions within Nollywood film music practice. To do so, the study considers the industry from 1994 (the year of its first English-language film production) to 2016. Relying on an ethnographic study, this period provides the latitude for understanding Nigerian musical culture, and how the industry’s musicians have transported, transformed, and re- or de-contextualised it in film. The methodology for this material is based, in part, on an approach akin to grounded theory wherein the data drives the theoretical outcomes. This is achieved through a critical examination of the socio-cultural, economic, and technological determinants of Nollywood soundtracks with emphasis on three Nollywood films, a text-tune correlation analysis of a transcribed videofilm song, publications on the subject, as well as data from studio observations and interviews/conversations with practitioners. Findings validate the argument that there are three Nollywood film music schools of thought; that identity is performed through three mutually exclusive contexts labelled ‘Blocking’, ‘Blurring’, and ‘Acquiescing’; that there exists a Nollywood film music identity system (NoPIS); and that identity is a subtly packaged commodity that exists in ‘shades’ and is regulated by various elements including, but not limited to, politics, power, music and film genres, language, money, as well as localisation and deterritorialisation. To be clear, Nollywood film music draws heavily from Nigerian musical culture. And this is why the entire process (of film music production and the notion of identity) remains a socio-cultural construction that is plural––always in the process of becoming, and to some degree susceptible to re-signification.

Publication Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: M Music and Books on Music > M Music
Departments: Doctoral Theses
Doctoral Theses > School of Arts and Social Sciences Doctoral Theses
School of Communication & Creativity > Performing Arts > Music
School of Communication & Creativity > School of Communication & Creativity Doctoral Theses
[thumbnail of Sylvanus, Emaeyak_Redacted.pdf] Text - Accepted Version
This document is not freely accessible until 18 December 2023 due to copyright restrictions.


Add to AnyAdd to TwitterAdd to FacebookAdd to LinkedinAdd to PinterestAdd to Email


Downloads per month over past year

View more statistics

Actions (login required)

Admin Login Admin Login