Access Type

Open Access Thesis

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name




First Advisor

Karl D. Braunschweig


The study of science fiction and superhero melodies is relatively new in the academic world of music theory. Analysis of hero archetypes found in Doctor Who, Star Trek (and its major motion pictures), Star Wars, and Superman provide excellent conduits for all students of music to access the hidden and overt musical meaning assigned to heroes. Realization of this study’s findings will feature interval tension and Schenkerian analysis, score reductions, and topic theory to provide perspective on how heroes are identified and perceived by directors, composers and audiences alike. Deryck Cooke, Leonard Ratner, and V. Kofi Agawu’s approach to thematic and melodic analysis provide support to this paper’s findings, and strengthens the semiotic effect of each melody studied. Intervals used in heroic melodies have an extra musical purpose, utilizing an agreed upon language of music between the audience and composer. Searching for these connections is the goal of this project, providing a framework for future study of the hero archetype in film scores of the twenty-first century.