+ In what ways does your Comparing my research findings media product use, and conventions with my group develop or challenge forms production and conventions of real Hanan Mohamed media products?
FOLK ROCK GENRE CHARACTERISTICS + -CONVENTIONS The band/artist is usually shown performing within the video, with shots of their instruments if they play any or simply their face if they sing only. (Rambling Man – Laura Marling).They are also usually performing alone, or simply the band cut in with scenes elsewhere e.g. a narrative cut in with the performance. Their isolation is often to highlight their USED - Our band is shown playing in front of trees music’s importance rather than screaming fans, and surrounded by fields and open space, which is in the theme of to indicate the artist is introspective and mature. (See nature. This is in keeping with the depiction of folk genre Mumford & Sons: Little Lion Man, Iron & Wine: Boy artists being in touch with nature as they are surrounded by it, With A Coin, Laura Marling: Rambling Man). This is in touch with earth, which assists their ruminations on life on usually done in a location full of nature – somewhere culture, history and protests, which are common themes in rural, full of fields, by a river, on a beach by the sea folk rock songs. Shots of the guitar are also used frequently to (Laura Marling: Rambling Man), by a swamp, a forest highlight the importance of the performance aspect of the (Iron & Wine: Boy With A Coin) etc. music video, as folk artists focus is their actual music rather than glamour or their physical appearance. Our Digipak also The Digipaks of folk rock artists also often include lots used the convention of having art full of nature on the front of art, conceptual pieces for the front cover which cover, as we used a sea of thorns and a ship riding on them may not always even include a photograph of the on the cover and this also worked to represent our band – artist, the art being intended to represent the artist – indicating that the artists have natural talent. This was also and the art is often full of nature, birds, bees etc as reflected by our poster which had a similar artsy theme but seen in Laura Marling’s Album Alas, I Cannot Swim. this time including a photo of the actual band, the highly (See Digipak research for more info). stylised cover reminiscent of more hand-drawn art pieces and effects.
RELATIONSHIPS BETWEEN LYRICS AND VISUALS + The lyrics of folk rock songs tend to be fairly abstract most of the time, however the visuals are usually illustrative for the chorus or a particular verse, but most of the song will use the visuals to amplify the lyrics meaning. Bon Iver: Calgary’s visuals are at first illustrative it says ‘don’t you cherish me to sleep’ and it shows a woman on a bed sleeping who defies being mollycoddled by being cherished and wakes up. ‘Hair, old, long along/Your neck onto your shoulder blades’ is sung as we see her lifting her head to show her hair is long, as the camera moves to show her neck and then her shoulder. The visuals begin to amplify in the next verse as ‘hip, under nothing’ is heard as she falls through the bed and lands standing in a lake. This is amplifying because instead of merely having her fall off of the bed, it shows her very foundations are not what she thought they were so she must go and ‘hunt the cause’ which she does getting up and finding a door out. Amplifying meaning in addition to just illustrating it shows that the folk rock artist thinks deeper about things, more creatively and conceptually out of the box, and so markets the artist as being unusual and talented which are features that would be attractive to a folk rock audience as well as draw in new audiences. In a few, rare places the meaning will be contradictory but instead of confusing the viewer makes the artist seem like a storyteller. Contradictory visuals can be seen in the first verse of Iron & Wine: Boy With A Coin as the lyrics are: A boy with a coin he found in the weeds/With bullets and pages of trade magazines/Close to a car that USED ILLUSTRATIVE The visuals are illustrative of the lyrics when the lyrics ‘my flipped on the turn/When God left the ground to circle the world . This was friends and I wave goodbye as our ship left England home’ and we had a ship leaving contradictory as all that could be seen on screen was a group of women shore as the friends they were leaving back home waved goodbye to them. dancing, no boy or weeds or a car to be seen. But in the following verse the visuals take the other direction and actually amplify the lyrics ILLUSTRATIVE – when the chorus plays ‘they say I fight, for king and country’ footage of meaning: A girl with a bird she found in the snow/Then flew up her gown soldiers play with their marching being in time to the beat of the song, showing that their and thats how she knows/If God made her eyes for crying at birth/Then military march is done with precision, in time and with conviction of their morale that they left the ground to circle the earth are fighting this war for their king and country. The lyrics ‘cackling guns against boys so fine’ are heard and footage of a soldier firing is seen on screen; in tandem a few moments later when the lyrics ‘over the top the There is one woman singled out for dancing and we can see no bird, but sergeant cries/and into no man’s land’ footage of soldiers crawling over the top of the feathers are falling from her dress and her dress is moving like a living trenches play, the lyrics illustrative of the visuals. bird – her expression is also quite sad. This amplifies because instead of simply showing a girl in the snow finding a bird that flies up her dress, the bird is metaphorical and the repeated line of God having ‘left the ground AMPLIFYING – when the song plays ‘when she’s in need, when she’s in danger’ the to circle the earth’ reflects the women dancing endlessly in circles in the screen shows a young woman crying into her handkerchief, and amplifies the typical same path as people are left on the path of fate, referencing religious understanding of the lyrics of the ‘she’ referring to our country England, taking it to mean messages. fighting both for our country as well as ‘she’, the safety of the soldiers’ sweethearts who have been left behind and are waiting for them to come back home.
RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN MUSIC AND VISUALS + The music is mostly illustrative of the visuals. In Iron & Wine: Boy With A Coin the style of the dancing matches the style of the music that is being played, both old fashioned and classy. The movements of the dancers hands are very smooth as are the notes of the piano being played. At the same time their dancing is still very obviously choreographed, hips and legs sharply in time to DEVELOPED the guitar strings being plucked in clearly defined movements. ILLUSTRATIVE – the interval between the first verse and the chorus, the visuals are in time with the music as the screen shows the guitarist from a low angle, focusing on his no- In Laura Marling: Rambling Man the music has a fairly steady ‘one-two’ beat which is in time with the visuals, to nonsense converse shoes amongst autumn leaves and the the point where even the birds flying and the sea waves gradual tilting over him till settling on his somber face in a close lapping have been edited so their speed is in time with the up. The movement of the camera tilting and gradually getting song. The music being in time with the visuals actually faster in time with the music, emphasizing that the most amplified meaning at some points e.g. near the middle of important message of the song within the chorus is coming up. the song and near the end the music sped as the man In the return to the narrative nearer the latter part of the song, leaped into the sea for his freedom, emphasizing the there are jump cuts of the soldier doing up his coat in time to weight of his action and its symbolism. This reflects the common themes of folk genre music where artists the music; the harsh plucking of the guitar strings along with normally perform in settings full of nature where it’s the jump cuts reflect his disjointed sense of time as he is still peaceful which helps their ability to be introspective and immersed in memories of fighting in wartime. reflective on life and its meaning.
DEMANDS OF THE RECORD LABEL + A large number of close ups of the artists are used in all of the videos, even in the ones where there is a large narrative taking place in order to keep the viewers back to focusing on and reminding them of the artist/band (Laura Marling: Rambling Man). By constantly focusing on the face of the artist, especially if they’re new, makes them more memorable and a brand in themselves. Conventions of the artists appearance if men, tends to mean fairly long hair to the shoulders or at least floppy around the ears or chin. This emphasizes their masculinity (also with suits in Mumford & Sons: Little Lion Man), maturity and life experience, which in turn imply authenticity that the artist knows the life issues that they’re singing about in their song. (Iron & Wine: Boy With A Coin, Mumford & Sons: Little Lion Man). Costume tends to be very minimalist, simple colours and traditional cuts which lets the viewer focus on the actual performing of the artist and narrative actions of any actors if present. This makes sure to draw more attention to the actual music itself, USED – We decided to use the convention of instead of being distracted by minor details like overly extravagant clothing with bright colours and the artist having longer hair than usual with the lead patterns. singer, but kept it a little more contemporary by instead of him having shoulder length hair it was merely grown out a little to around his ears, and a Make up if used for the women is usually naturalistic so subtle, which also lessens distraction by beauty/appearance and gives off along with the simple clothing an impression of humility. (Bon little height in the hair of the guitarist was left instead Iver: Calgary) This was turned on its head for Laura Marling: Rambling Man but still had the same of him having e.g. a shaved head. Close ups were intended effect as its extravagance of make up only served to highlight the humbleness of the used in our video at the appropriate moments where rambling man’s lifestyle and dourness of his clothes. the most emotional lines were sung in order to achieve a greater feeling of intimacy between the viewer and the artists. Their clothes were kept very The only video I found which defied convention was Bon Iver: Calgary in that the artist did not basic without detail or diverting designs, in simple appear at all, which defies the convention of showing and focusing on the artists’ face within leather jacket, hoodie, jeans and converse. videos to sell them as an artist.
NOTIONS OF +LOOKING& VOYEURISMOF THEFEMALE BODY NOTIONS OF LOOKING: The notions of looking are effectively referenced in Iron & Wine: Boy With A Coin where the use of the dancers watching their own performance within the video – hinting that they are aware of the audience, and they are performing for them. In Laura Marling: Rambling Man there’s a reference in the beginning of the video where the man looks at himself in the mirror. This shows his self-awareness, and the camera shoots it from the same angle where he must be able to see it and be aware of his audience although he does not directly look in that direction at the viewer. CHALLENGE - There were hardly any females within our video VOYEURISTIC TREATMENT OF THE FEMALE BODY: and the only one we used was stock footage, in a close up of a Iron & Wine: Boy With A Coin has chosen a slightly more young woman in a dress crying into her handkerchief. We subtle way of viewing the female body voyeuristically. In the challenged the convention of treating the female body medium close up shots of the singer’s face we can see the voyeuristically as in the particular clip we chose, the camera did main dancer’s bust behind him emphasised further by how not focus on her in a physically intimate way and therefore it did her head has been cut out of the shot. not objectify her. We believed that this would further emphasize the convention of folk rock artists having integrity, not needing to In Bon Iver: Calgary the female is treated voyeuristically as lower themselves to objectifying another human being and would the viewer sees her half dressed in a sheer nightgown further help market the artist as in it for the music in the true tossing and turning in her bed which is an intimate location, interpretation of the human emotional state. and the feeling of voyeurism intensifies as the camera lingers on her neck, legs and bare skin.
INTERTEXTUAL REFERENCE + Intertextuality was found to be rare within the music videos that I researched, present in only one: Calgary – Bon Iver. This may be due to the folk rock genre’s strong focus on the artist being involved with creating their own music and song writing as opposed to using industry songwriters. In Bon Iver’s video of Calgary, the woman rises up out of the ground coming up from a whole hidden world beneath the earth up to ground level – this is a direct reference to the film Pan’s Labyrinth. As a folk rock band, part of the genre is being very true to the music and the integrity of the artist – Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon writes his own songs and produced the album For Emma forever ago independently. This is reflected in the production of the video. Instead of taking clips from actual films and embedding them in the video, the label has chosen to recreate the concept of coming from a world underground and filmed it themselves with their own actors and extras for the video. This was appropriate as the film is about a young stepdaughter of a cruel army officer in fascist Spain who escapes her reality into a fantasy world. As the film itself draws much on old myths and legends of Pan and Dionysus as well as other fairytales, upon drawing upon this film to allude DID NOT USE - However this is not applicable to our to this made the music video unusual to other videos and highly music video as we did not use any intertexuality. We conceptual – a success in terms of a folk rock video being original in its decided upon this as we found intertexuality to be approach even amongst others in its genre. rare so much that it was a norm for it to be present within the video, and so as a result followed the norm of not having included it within the video.
TECHNICAL DIRECTIONS – ARTIST/ACTOR MOVEMENTS ETC + For the most part the artists within folk rock tend to remain still in one place as they perform, playing their guitar and if singing choosing to emote with their facial expressions in time with their sung lyrics rather than moving about USE – the members of the band are positioned as melodramatically as a pop singer might do. Their movements, when markedly standing by one another equally without one being different, are often simply almost a part of the music e.g. a band member further forward or backwards. They remain mostly still, stamping his foot on the floor in time with the bass (Little Lion Man – Mumford & not making any overly dramatic gestures and focus on Sons). Actors movements tend to be fairly slow, leisured, languid and never playing their music and singing in heartfelt tones, hurried. The drowsy girl in Bon Iver’s Calgary moves slowly in her bed and even which fits the convention as Samuel Beam and Laura when fully awake travelling the swamp and finding her way out does not move Marling do the same in their music videos. When they fast – nor do any of the people over ground. do move, their movements are calm and in time to the music e.g. bobbing head in time to the guitar or turning The band are positioned in an equal manner across wherever they are their head to gaze into the distance of old memories. performing and if a sole artist then off centre or near the back of the room; their The actor of the veteran soldier moves slowly, position suggesting they are not here for glamorous reasons of fame or wanting to be the centre of attention. The band/artist does not usually put on a pose of absorbed in memories, doing his coat buttons and one kind or another, and merely performs – the lack of an obvious pose or walking across the park also at a leisurely pace. adoption of a persona, or a characterization which is usually done in other genres e.g. RnB singers with bling and aggressive gestures, adds to the impression of integrity of the artist in not attempting to fool the audience that they are someone they’re not but rather letting the music speak for them.
TECHNICAL DIRECTIONS–+ EDITING DIRECTIONSThe cutting rhythm is fairly even and tends to move in time to themusic in most folk rock videos. The cutting rate tends to vary, DEVELOPED – we used jump cuts where the soldier dwelling onspeeding up when the music does to various shots and slowing thoughts of his war experiences in the trenches is doing up his coat,down as the music does. (Rambling Man – Laura Marling). jutting from him doing one button to another in time to the music. This was to reflect the disjointed memories and mental state of the soldier byMatch cuts are used to enforce continuity of the action in the the disjointed feel of the editing, jarring to the visual eye.music video, to make it seem more seamless. In narrative We also used matched cuts where the band would be playing and we’dscenes of folk rock music videos reverse shots and matched cuts repeat the same shot but from a different angle or position in order toare used, such as in Bon Iver’s Calgary when the girl who vary shot for the viewer.climbed up onto the earth from underground shared looks with We kept the cutting rhythm in time to the music, for example differentthe boy across from her who had just done the same thing, to shots of the guitarist being cut at a faster pace when the music speededshow continuity and that they were looking at each other. up in a build up to the chorus after a long tilt up.
TECHNICAL DIRECTIONS +– MISE EN SCENE Locations full of nature are often used, fields, beaches, lakes, forests, swamps and so on to highlight the artists connection to nature (Sea in Rambling Man: Laura Marling). Usually as music videos are shot in natural settings, natural lightings are used although this may occasionally vary. The mise en scene tends to reflect this emphasis on the music, focusing on their respective talents in the band, on their instruments or the singer’s face/mouth rather than the camera focusing them in a voyeuristic manner. In Little Lion Man by Mumford & Sons, the singer’s face is frequently backlit, his face in shadow with his open mouth singing highlighted under the spotlight. The flashbulbs on the empty stage are what’s used mostly to light the scene. Props are used occasionally, if in a fantastical conceptual setting e.g. Bon Iver’s Calgary where the bed is lying in the middle of a swamp, but are usually unnecessary as videos tend to be performance based. Artist outfits tend to be in simple colours without any particularly bright colours or intricate patterns, and kept sombre – this allows the listener to focus on the music rather than outer effects, and the simplicity of clothing shows the humbleness and introspection, the focus of the artist. CHALLENGE – rather than having a naturally lit setting or a mildly theatrical lighting of the setting we chose in editing to give our music video a highly stylized colour scheme. The band footage was made mostly monochrome in order to highlight the guitar and some autumn leaves in red, to signify the blood of all the lost soldiers. A sepia tone throughout the narrative footage of the soldier living in the current day is used in order to reinforce the impression that he is still stuck in the war, lost in thoughts of the past. No props were used, and the soldier actor was dressed in simple black military style coat and boots with trousers and a grey t-shirt. The simplicity of his clothes was in keeping with the simplicity of the artists clothes but had a more formal bearing to them. Locations used were fields and the bedroom in a house, as explained in slide one the field location was used to use the convention of the band performing in a natural setting. No crowds or dancers were used as we wanted to emphasise the solitariness of our lone soldier.
TECHNICAL DIRECTIONS – FRAMING OF+SHOT In Little Lion Man by Mumford & Sons, the singer’s face is frequently backlit, his face in shadow with his open mouth singing highlighted under the spotlight – in the rule of thirds, his mouth crosses one of the lines and is in perfect alignment to naturally catch the viewer’s eye, to his music. His USE – we used close ups of instruments, mid level shots of silhouetted face is framed in the far left of the shot, leaving instruments across the video of the guitarist and a medium two thirds of it free and full of light seemingly emanating from him – the music that comes out of his singing mouth is close up of the singer to emphasise the importance of the symbolized in the light. Music, is light, is life. instruments and performance over all. The band is often in the centre of the shot, or in line with the rule of thirds in a place Mid level shots of instruments as well as close ups of them where they would be across one of the lines, drawing help to signify their importance, of the music over and above all, particularly as they tend to take up nearly the entirety of attention to heir place in the shot. In our narrative part of the shots. This is seen across folk rock music videos. video we also framed the soldier often in only about a third of the shot, leaving a lot of space all around him to give the Voyeurism of the female body is achieved by framing the impression that he was small, of no significance – despite the female body in parts, in intimate close up shots as seen of the drowsy girl in Bon Iver’s Calgary and mid level shots of the great sacrifice he has made to his country and how important dancers in Iron and Wine’s Boy With A Coin that cut off their that should make him, his personal feelings of being faces to identify and individualize them and instead make it feel as if they are just one of many commonplace female depressed after the war, alone and lost are reflected by his parts, further objectifying the female body. position and where we’ve framed him in many shots.