MUSIC VIDEO – SOMEMUSIC VIDEO – SOME THEORYTHEORY TO APPLYTO APPLY
A reminder that you need evidence engagement with all 4 GCSE Key Concepts in
Assignment 4, easily remembered as MARI:
MEDIA LANGUAGE, AUDIENCE, REPRESENTATION, INSTITUTION
Three theorists to consider: Andrew Goodwin, Simon Firth, and Stuart Hall. These all cover Media Language,
but also touch on other KCs. The additional names and notes are part of a theory guide for A2 students; if
you’d like to try and explore more, just ask and I’ll give you a copy of the full theory pack to browse.
Andrew Goodwin: The 6 defining features of music
ANDREW GOODWIN RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN LYRICS, VISUALS, MUSIC: asked what is the
relationship between lyrics, visuals and music he cites 4 relationships (and below outlines 6 common
features): (1) illustrative – images provide a literal representation (2) amplifying – repetition of key
meanings and effects to manipulate the audience (3) contradicting – images contrast with the music (4)
disjuncture – when the meaning of the song is completely ignored. A video may combine some of these. He
argues that the most common function of a video, looking at Madonna examples (as did Carol Vernallis;
Madonna’s output has been a major influence on theories applied to music videos!), is to frame the “star-
in-text” (cf. Richard Dyer’s star system); creating a role that boosts their star appeal and branding.
He argues that there are six defining, common characteristics of music videos which mark them out as
a distinct format:
1. Music videos demonstrate genre characteristics.
(e.g. stage performance in metal videos, dance routine for boy/girl band, aspiration in Hip
2. There is a relationship between lyrics and visuals. The lyrics are represented with images.
(either illustrative, amplifying, contradicting).
3. There is a relationship between music and visuals. The tone and atmosphere of the visual
reflects that of the music. [This is essentially Vernallis’ point. Anton Corbijn’s Joy Division
videos are a good example; moody black and white to reflect the gothic music; so too the 2011
student Joy Division video [blogs]]
(either illustrative, amplifying, contradicting).
4. The demands of the record label will include the need for lots of close ups of the artist and the
artist may develop motifs which recur across their work (a visual style). [Richard Dyer again!]
5. There is frequently reference to notion of looking (screens within screens, mirrors, stages, etc)
and particularly voyeuristic treatment of the female body. [Can link to male gaze etc]
6. There are often intertextual reference (to films, tv programmes, other music videos etc).
[Kristeva, other postmodern theory]
You can apply this theory by very briefly summing up his argument then working through which of his 6
features your video does/n’t include. For all such work it is vital that you provide clear, specific examples
GCSE Media: theories for music promo evidence package 1
(presented with screenshot/s for illustration). You should also refer to existing videos from your research,
again providing specific examples – using media terminology in doing so – illustrated with screenshot/s.
Simon Firth: 3 types of video
The usual approach is to combine two of these, with performance one:
PERFORMANCE: footage of the artist/s performing
NARRATIVE: a linear, cause/effect storyline, generally clearly tied to the lyrics
CONCEPT: whilst this still may be described as a narrative, it is incomplete and may be non-linear, and
Hall, who died recently, is a major figure in the British academic field of Media Studies, a very different
tradition to the USA. He argued that while semiotics (signifier, connotations, polysemy, anchorage and all
that good stuff…) is a very useful framework, it assumes that all meaning resides in the text and comes from
the text’s creators. In short his contention was that this is wrong … the audience brings their own meaning,
with the age, gender, education, cultural knowledge (etc) of an audience.
Just watch any episode of The Simpsons, a show with a 20+ year history. You WON’T get or recognise every
figure they reference, every joke – you can’t follow the preferred reading (exactly how the creators would
like you to understand and respond to the text). If you get NONE of the references, you’re engaging in an
oppositional reading. If you get SOME of the references, you’re following a contested reading.
Another example of an oppositional reading: you’re watching a campaign video from UKIP, Front Nationale
or other equivalents; in the case where your personal views conflict with those from such political parties, you
are likely to consciously reject the preferred reading that has been encoded, and instead respond with an
Parkin’s/Hall’s Audience Readings Theory
Your EXAMPLES here would most usefully centre on audience feedback. This usually
provides contrasting, conflicting readings – especially if you can tie this into the age,
gender or other demographic of each specific respondent/audience. Younger audiences
tended to vary sharply from post-16 audiences, and genre awareness/fandom is also a
big issue in determining response.
Frank Parkin (1972) and later Stuart Hall (1980) analysed the readings within audiences as either:
1.Dominant or Preferred Reading: The meaning they want you to have is usually accepted.
2.Negotiated or Contested Reading: The dominant reading is only partially recognised or accepted and
audiences might disagree with some of it or find their own meanings.
3.Oppositional Reading: The dominant reading is refused, rejected because the reader disagrees with it or is
offended by it, especially for political, religious, feminist, reasons etc.
HOW YOU APPLY THEORIES SUCH AS THIS
GCSE Media: theories for music promo evidence package 2
You combine analysis of your PLANNING (the Evaluation is separate), and intended media language
choices, using very specific description (denotation), backed up with relevant image/s and employing media
terminology, with references to your INSPIRATIONS: specific parts of specific music videos that have shown
you the media language expected. You’ll note the word specific there! Illustration is key too: provide some
relevant imagery, whether its on your planned video, or an existing example. Highlight terminology using
bold + pink.
GCSE Media: theories for music promo evidence package 3