Music videos first came about in 1923-24 with the invention of
synchronizing sound directly onto film by Lee De Forest, an
American inventor, which led to the creation of music videos.
Oskar Fischinger was a Germa-American artists notable for
inventing abstract musical animations in the 1920s. “His musical
animations were the first real form of music videos.
In early 1930s animation artist Max Fleischer introduced a series
of sing-along short cartoons called Screen Songs, which invited
audiences to sing along to popular songs by "following the
bouncing ball". The cartoons featured popular musicians
performing their songs on-camera in live-action segments
during the cartoons.
Musical films have also helped the progression of music videos
and several well-known music videos have replicated the style
of classic Hollywood musicals from the 1930s to the 1950s.
In 1960s pop The Animals
created a promo film for
their breakthrough 1964 hit
“House Of The Rising Sun”
which was one of the earliest
music videos created.
It was a high-quality colour
clip filmed in a studio on a
specially-built set featuring
the group in a lip-synched
through an edited sequence
of tracking shots, close ups
and long shots, as singer Eric
Burdon, guitarist Hilton
Valentine and bassist Chas
Chandler walked around the
set in a series of
In 1964, The Beatles starring in their first feature film
A Hard Day's Night, directed by Richard Lester after
their newfound international fame.
It was shot in black and white and presented as a
mock documentary, it was a loosely structured
musical fantasia mixed together with comedic and
dialogue sequences with exciting and original
The musical sequences provided the basic
templates on which numerous follow up promo
clips and music videos were made and it has had
a huge influence on the style and visual language
of the genre.
By the time The Beatles stopped touring in late
1966, their promotional films, like their recordings,
had become highly sophisticated.
In May 1966 they filmed two sets of colour
promotional clips for their single "Rain" / Paperback
In early 1967 they made the colour promotional
clips for "Strawberry Fields Forever" and "Penny
Lane " and took the promotional film format to a
They used techniques from underground and
avant garde film, such as reversed film and slow
motion, dramatic lighting, unusual camera angles
and colour filtering added in post-production.
In 1966 Bob Dylan's "Subterranean Homesick
Blues" starred in his colourless music video
filmed by D. A. Pennebaker.
Bob Dylan Deliberately avoided any
attempt to perform or present a narrative.
The clip shows Dylan standing in a city back
alley, silently shuffling a series of large cue
cards (with key words from the song's lyrics)
in time to the music, while his friends Allen
Ginsberg and Bob Neuwirth talk in the
The cue-card device has been imitated in
many other music videos.
Many "song films"—often referred to as "filmed inserts"
at that time—were produced by UK artists so they
could be screened on TV when the bands couldn't
perform live which also increased the production of
In the UK The Kinks made one of the first real "plot"
promo clips for a song for their single "Dead End
Street" in 1966.
It was a miniature comic movie where members of
Kinks acted like undertakers in old London streets.
Oddly for the time, there was no lip-syncing, but the
clip was edited according to the phases of song.