Illustration – either a straightforward performance video or a simple narrative video (or mixture of the two) that illustrates the meaning of the lyrics and visualizes the music in a straightforward way. It could be called music video ‘denotation’ .
Amplification – the conventions demonstrated by the music video ‘auteur’ or creative director. S/he may use both performance and narrative, however, rather than simply illustrate the lyrics or sounds this director will ‘amplify’ both with creative interpretation, unusual ideas and surrealistic approaches. There is still a direct link to the song, whether it be the beat, sound or ‘ connotative ’ link to part of the lyrics or song title. See Spike Jones’ video for Fat Boy Slim’s ‘Praise You.
Disjuncture – also created by ‘auteur’ directors these videos are completely abstract and have no obvious link to the music, lyrics, song title or artist. In this sense they are a point of ‘disjuncture’ from the song. See Spike Jones’ video for Radiohead- Kid A video.
Music video’s which are fully dedicated to narrative are very rare, as the artist usually takes part in the story line whilst performing the lyrics, directly towards the camera.
Most videos correspond with the lyrics and the genre of music, this is considered to be the narrative; as it makes a connection with the artist lyrics meaning. Generally people see music videos as add-ons to the songs, adding the narrative and illustration to what the previous word were.
The artist themselves often play a part in the story either being the narrator (singing the song), a protagonist ( the main character in role in the music video) or both. Music video narratives are mainly love story's with male or female artists and actors. Action narratives are normally dominated by males and dance videos could be dominated by both. The point of a narrative is so the audience can relate to the music and the video, from their past experiences. Narratives are more common in the slow, R&B love songs, not so much the heavy metal rock.
However, there are some music videos which interlink with films, linking two industries together as they both promote each other. This is by having the music played in a film as non diegetic sound, which is used as mood music ( or creating a crescendo), this promotes the song as it works against each over, a good example of this is Trey Songz-Already taken . With this particular case, Step Up 3 is being promoted, containing dance scene’s connecting visuals of the film and the songs narrative throughout the majority of the music video.
This is mainly shown as the whole shooting of the video is set in a dance studio linking the dance theme together. The artist also reflects a particular scene where two characters from the films relationship builds, this is mimicked by Trey Songz and a dancer in the video, portraying the forms of intertextuality, creating an immediate liaison between the film itself and the music video, as they both reflect the genre of the hip hop and RnB. The narrative displayed in this music video corresponds with the narrative exhibited in the film, both expressing the passion and love for dance that is indescribable. In order to enhance this message, the scenes of the music video and the film flashed back and forth to create the scene of partnership and also interlinking the dance theme.
They need to market/advertise the band/artist and song so it must feature ‘repeatability’ In other words the narrative code must be ‘loose’ or simply ‘ suggestive’ rather than ‘ realistic ’ or ‘detailed’. This is because music video audiences need to be able to watch videos repeatedly and a tight realist narrative would prove too boring after the first couple of viewings. Musical stimulation only requires the musical or lyrical ‘mood’ to latch onto to, and develop a narrative concept.
Musical Stimulation – the two elements of the song which determine the visual subject or overall concept. The grain of voice” whereby the vocal sounds can be understood as music in themselves for example, Michael Jackson’s ‘yelp’ or Chris brown yeah x3. The tone of voice of the words which are the song title themselves for example Bjork’s ‘It’s Oh So Quiet’
The central musical arrangement that dictates the overall mood. This could be a key guitar or a particular beat (‘Weapon of Choice’ Fatboy Slim) Once the director has identified what he/she thinks is the key vocal or musical element then this maybe used to tap into the audience’s sense of shared cultural history or intertextuality e.g. The steel guitar in the American Deep South and desert plains
Conventions of the band performance : a degree of realism of the performance is required by the band and the director so we find lip-sync close-up , mimed playing of instruments, repetition of chorus shots to enhance ‘repeatability’ , unusual camera shots and angles e.g. the micro camera shots attached to the neck of a guitar, sweeping crane shots to film audience reaction to the band playing etc
Conventions of solo artist performance : many of the above plus choreographed dance routines to enhance ‘repeatability’ , a first person mode of address directly engaging the viewer through the camera which involves many close up shots of eyes rolling and if the video is a hybrid form cutting between performance and narrative then the solo artist or band lead singer often becomes part of the narrative story, acting as narrator and participant at the same time.
Star Image – only 1 in 10 artists promoted by a major record company will actually make that company any substantial profit. This is why certain select profit making stars are manufactured, manipulated and marketed by the record label’s ‘ artist and repertoire’ division so forcefully. The star image of individuals such as Michael Jackson and Madonna through their videos is a vital element of this process. This is why we can identify the ‘ meta-narrative’ of stars through their videos whereby the record label manipulates and changes the artist’s image with each new video release to increase sales , strengthen target audiences and widen appeal to new fan bases . The best case studies are ‘Madonna’ and ‘Michael Jackson’ .
Similarly, it is also quite rare when finding a music video that completely dedicates itself to the performance excluding live video clips. This is due to the lack of engagement that sometimes comes when watching an entire performance. Nonetheless, The Big Pink - Dominos had a continuous performance which was engaging the viewers through their intense ways of performing, enhanced through the slow motion clips. Implying each moment the portrayal of the adrenalin that surged through their blood, which created the wall of sound. This being the reason why Dominos has become popular among viewers. Also to enhance the foremost, empowerment experience on stage, there is a continuous cut to an ice figure crashing down, symbolising the impact of the music.
Notion of looking is detailed upon stereotypes and labels that you may associate with a certain artist or group. These stereotypes are usually taken advantage of in many music videos in order to appeal to specific target audiences. A good example of a music video has this is Keri Hilson’s Knock you down ft. Kayne West, Ne-yo , which manages to question the authority of women. Towards the beginning, we see an intimate hug where the male leans away portraying a cool and steady stance, while, the female looks venerable. This ideology allows males to respect this masculine behaviour as it guarantees a form of dominance, this is hugely enhanced as Keri lies seductively on the bed which questions whether she is a sexual object that is a decoy in the male audience. and power to change her current situation.
Nevertheless, this insight is altered when Keri is the result of male confrontation, which is clearly verified in the image below where Kayne falls. Meanwhile, Keri stands tall by maintaining her statuesque posture that women idolise. This is then repeat through the lyrics, ‘cause boy you came around and you knocked me down’, the fact that it’s written in past tense signifies the end of the relationship. Her dominance is then concluded as this is followed by, ‘just get back up when it knocks you down’, demonstrating her buoyancy
Mise-en-scene focuses on: lighting, props, costume, setting, characters and colours all of which are essential for creating the right atmosphere and ambience for any music video. This is perhaps one of the main contributions towards determining a specific genre as mise-en-scene creates some of the ideologies and variations associated with a specific social group. For instance, dark lighting is likely to appear in a gothic video, although, it would seem rare in a pop video.
Props-All music videos contain props depending on the genre and type of song it is, such as, if it is a performance style video, there would be performance equipment, instruments, and stages and lighting.
Costume-This also depends on the lyrics of the song as well as the genre. Certain performers will have different outfits suiting what they are representing in the video.
Location-The setting for music videos basically sets the scene immediately and many settings used are simple settings where many people can relate to.
Many music videos have certain elements that make them have various vibes to represent the view of the music tribes, such as:
Hip hop music videos use quite dark colours, simple settings and there are portrayals of women to show their sexuality, which appeals to males. On the other hand, the majority of hip hop music artists are males and so, females are the fans.
Pop music videos feature the usage of many bright colours, flashing lights and creative settings and backdrops. The colours would appeal to mainly younger audiences as many pop artists are young and express themselves through the lyrics of pop music, as well as their costumes that make the musicians look innocent and relatable.
Rock music videos have dark colours throughout and use simple settings. Many videos contain the use of music equipment such as drums and guitars, which is why many rock musicians do performances in their videos. There is a lot of emotion in the videos through the characters and musicians facial expressions, and normally they do not portray happiness in the music videos as they relate the lyrics and meaning of the song to the storyline and emotions.
R'n'B music videos are similar to hip hop videos as they contain simple settings and many show women dressed in revealing clothes. Also, these videos have an element to portray wealth and power through the use of cars and jewellery due to the costume and setting.
Jazz music videos contain bright lights and are often of performances on huge stages. Costumes include suits for the men and sophisticated dresses for women as well as classy hairstyles and bright make up, with the use of old fashioned microphones. The overall view of these videos are to portray sophistication and elegance.
Editing : various terms: jump cutting, MTV style editing or montage editing. Creating the visually de-centred experience of ‘jumping’ from location to person to instrument without any normal narrative continuity. Instead it is often the beat or the rhythm of the track which provides the organisng code’s for editing movement. The editing moves so fast it creates the need for viewing ‘repeat’. There are exceptions though. Some ‘continuity editing’ used such as atmospheric ‘dissolve shots ’ such as in Beyonce- sweet dreams
The editing process in music videos takes a lot of time and is a fundamental part of music videos. The is because, the shots are needed to be selected. The lip synching definitely needs to be edited so that the musicians look as though they are actually singing the song at the exact same time as the music playing.
Footage used is edited to match what is said in the lyrics of the music, as part as parallel editing.
CGI effects-many music videos use effects to show impossible outcomes such as superhero moves and flying.
Choosing to include diegetic sound-at the beginning and ending of some music videos, there are scenes without any music to explain what is going on and to start or finish the narrative.
Changes in the levels of sounds- in certain areas of the song, the music level changes for effect, narrative reasons or to suit what is going on.
Sound consists of two main formats including diegetic sound which is already present in the film and non - diegetic sound which can be edited in. Sound is absolutely necessary in any music video as this is the main reason for why people watch and listen to them, to gain a sense of art through different artists’. Sound can be edited to create different effects and variations to the normal vocals that we hear. The Time - Black eyed peas demonstrates how vocals can be manipulated along with simple beats to create a modernised understanding of the original. The robotic filter enhances this modernised feel that contrasts with the normal vocals, along with certain short, repetitive phrases, ‘and I owe it all to you-you -y -y – you’. Towards the ending of the song, we hear plain, spoken lyrics which still add to this dominant present of the artist due to the continual riff. This conveys the well edited melody present in the background. This then leads to the non- diegetic sound of machinery that is used as a transition between each verse/chorus, for example, where Fergie is suddenly faded out as if a technical error. We then manage to grasp the smoothness of the backing track, which contrasts well with the effects upon the vocals.
Camera Shots : jumping directly between long shots, close ups and extreme close ups. Primarily the close up on the singer’s face is the main generic convention for music videos. Also the extreme close up on the lips for lip synching.
Camera Movement : whip pans, fast dolly track shots and fast overhead crane shots to follow the running, walking or dancing of performers. Also fast vertical tilts and horizontal pans.
Depending on what the style of the music video is, depends on the type of camera angles that are used, such as:
Crane shots-these are used especially when there is a usage of stages and where the musicians is performing. The crane shots are able to hover around the stage from many different angles to capture what is happening.
Pans/tilts-these are to move to each performer and can also be used to show the location as it pans around which is very effective.
Close ups-they focus on the musicians as their mouths move to the lyrics as well as when there is a narrative and there are close ups on the characters to show their emotions, which suit what the song is about. There are usually close ups on instruments and certain, significant props.
Low angle shot-which are shot from a high location to give the effect of a bird's eye view.
‘ split screens’(see Michel Gondry’s video for Kylie Minogue’s ‘Come Into My World’ for split screens seamlessly ‘bled’ into each other) ‘colourisation’ ‘slow motion’ etc These are now conventional for music videos
Expressive lighting is a key feature of music videos. Extreme artificial light to create the ‘bleaching’ effect on pop stars faces (making them seem ageless). Also the use of switching from colour to black & white or sepia to indicate a shift from chorus to verse. Also lighting effects such as strobes or flashing needs to be identified. This obviously links into the use of CGI in dance music videos to enhance the atmosphere.