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About City

Emaeyak Sylvanus

PhD student

Department of Music

E: Emaeyak.Sylvanus.1@city.ac.uk

PhD Title: Nollywood film music: Shades of identity

Supervisor: Dr. Miguel Mera

Overview and research interests

Nollywood is the informal name of Nigeria’s unique and globally recognised film industry. For over two decades (since 1992), the products of 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 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 1992 (the year of its first production) to 2015. 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 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 a subtly packaged commodity that exists in tiers and is regulated by various elements including, but not limited to, politics, power, music and film genres, language, as well as localisation and hybridisation. And because Nollywood film music draws heavily from Nigerian musical culture, the entire process is a socio-cultural construction that is plural – always in the process of becoming – and to some degree susceptible to re-signification.

Research interests:

  • Film music
  • Pop music
  • African art music
  • Nollywood studies

Higher educational background

BA Music (Nigeria); MA Music (Nigeria); MA Film Music (City University London)

Public Presentations and Conference Papers Given

  • 2016, ‘Reading Nollywood Film Music: Thoughts on a Divergent Creative Practice’. Music for Audio-Visual Media II Conference, University of Leeds, UK. (Forthcoming).
  • 2014, ‘From East to West, North and South: Popular Music and Commuter Bus Travels in Nigeria’. RMA Popular Music and Society Conference, University of Birmingham, UK.
  • 2013, ‘From Fuji House of Commotion to Everyday People: Pop Music as TV Music in Nigeria’. National Conference of Music and the Performing Arts (NACOMPA) held at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka.
  • 2011, 'Between Hollywood and Nollywood: Reflections on “Major – Minor” Borrowings’. Dialogue: Africa Meets North America Conference, Harlem, New York.
  • 2011, 'Prefiguring in Nollywood Videofilm Soundtracks: Introduction'. Film Music Conference, University of Leeds, UK.


Sylvanus, E. P. (2012). Film music practice in Nollywood: From mimesis to the opacity of the extended present. Saarbrucken, Germany. LAP Lambert.

Sylvanus, E. P. (2017). 'Scoring without Scorsese: Nollywood's Divergent Creative Process' in Music on Screen: From Cinema Screens to Touchscreens. Musicology Research (online), 2(1): 117-140.