A linear narrative is a narrative that works in one
line and follows the set story. This means that it
does not include references from the past and the
For instance, the music video of ‘I hate u I love u’
by Gnash follows two characters walking around in
the forest and by the sea, without any references
from the past and future. This makes it difficult for
the viewer to visually distinguish the relationship
between the two characters, so the lyrics help to tell
Non – Linear Narrative
A non linear narrative possesses the opposite a
linear narrative may contain. This means that the
story is interrupted by the past and future, or the
story is not in chronological order.
The music video of ‘Last Friday night’ by Katy
Perry gives indication of a non linear narrative
through the song title and how it connotes into the
video. It features how there was a party at Katy
Perry’s house last Friday and the video’s narrative
goes to the present, past then present again.
Therefore, including scenes set in the past help to
explain what is happening in the present.
Equilibrium and Disequilibrium
Tzvetan Todorov summarised the narrative theory by coming up with the assumption of equilibrium and disequilibrium, which
split into 5 stages. Equilibrium is the state where everything is tranquil between powers of any kind and an equal balance exists
between them. A disequilibrium, on the other hand, is the disruption of that order by an event. The disruption is then recognised,
attempted to be resolved, and then resolved - implying that narratives are circular, but the final equilibrium is not identical to the
An example of Todorov’s theory within a music video, is ‘Trouble’ By Iggy Azalea. The video starts off with Iggy waiting for her
boyfriend in the car whilst he goes to the bank (equilibrium), but is arrested for robbery (disequilibrium). A bomb goes off in the
boyfriend’s cell so he escapes and is reunited with Iggy (disequilibrium resolved) but the final equilibrium is not identical to the
original one because both of the characters are wanted.
Using Todorov’s theory in music videos creates a cinematic approach, which is what I am aiming to do with my music video.
Despite this, the plot of my video dos not feature a disequilibrium because it focuses on the journey of love and self-discovery, and
not necessarily on the obstacles that could be approached, but the long duration this journey takes.
Levi Strauss believed that we make understanding of the
world by understanding opposites. Binary Opposites in a
narrative are the protagonist/heroine and the
antagonist/villain. The story of many films include binary
oppositions. In music videos, however, binary opposites can
also mean rich/poor, happy/sad, gay/straight and
male/female. Strauss said that without them, the world
would be unbalanced.
An example of binary opposites in a music video is ‘Elastic
Heart’ by Sia. The video involves two characters who are
the opposite in size, age and gender. This caused major
controversy amongst the public as they thought the video
indicated paedophilia. After this, Sia apologised and clarified
that the two characters were playing the same character but
representing different/opposite emotions.
Multi and Single Stranded Narrative
A multi stranded narrative is based upon more than one
main character, meaning that there are multiple stories
imbedded within the narrative, making it random. A single
strand narrative is the opposite - it only focuses on one
character and the story unfolds and finishes around them.
If this style is used within a music video, it is normally the
artist who is the focus.
‘Fireworks’ by Katy Perry includes narratives that
focus on more than one character. It tells how the lives
and emotions of the characters have transformed from the
beginning to the end of the video because of the
appearance of fireworks, which bring about positive
energy and liveliness. It focuses on a girl at a party, two
siblings in an argumentative household, a girl in hospital,
a man in a club and a man in the streets.
A parallel Narrative is similar to a multi strand
narrative except the separate narratives are all linked by
a common character, event or theme.
The music video of ‘Hair’ by Little Mix is an example
of a parallel Narrative. At the beginning of the video,
each member of the band had a separate narrative, but
an event occurs when Leanne sees a post on social
media about her boyfriend, and this brings all the girls
together to have a sleepover and have fun.