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Narrative structures


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Narrative structures

  1. 1. Narrative Structures By Alice Western
  2. 2. Linear Narrative 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 future. 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 the story.
  3. 3. 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.
  4. 4. 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 original one. 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.
  5. 5. Binary Opposites 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.
  6. 6. 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.
  7. 7. Parallel Narrative 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.