Music Video Codes and Conventions
Music videos are generally made up of a key set of conventions; things that you are most likely to see in music videos, or stereotypically. Generally codes and conventions change according to the genre of the band/artist, however common aspects usually appear and are general to a range of different artists.
General conventions include:
-lip syncing or performance
-music and tempo drives the editing
-genre is reflected via mise-en-scene
-lyrics drive the action in the video
-digital effects are used to play with images
-fast cut montage is one of the most common forms of editing, as a way to enhance repetition.
-close ups are used regularly to show the main artist
Andrew Goodwins theory (Dancing in the Distraction Factory, 1992).
- There is a relationship between the music and the visuals, with the visuals illustrating, amplifying or contradicting the music.
- Genres are complex and diverse in terms of music video style and iconography
- Record companies will demand a lot of close-ups of the main artist or vocalist
- Voyeurism is present in many music videos, especially in the treatment of females, but also in terms of systems of looking. Some examples are screens within screens, cameras, mirrors, etc.
- there are likely to be intertextual references, either to other music videos or to films and TV texts, these provide further gratification and pleasure for the viewers/fans.
John Stewarts theory
-Music videos have the aesthetics of a TV commercial, with lots of close-ups and lighting being used to focus on the lead artists face.
-Visual references in music videos come from a range of sources, although the 3 most frequent are cinema, fashion and art photography.
-The music video is “incorporating, raiding and reconstructing”, essentially the essence of intertextuality, taking what the audience may find familiar, to generate both nostalgic associations and new meanings.
-The music video allows more access to the performer than a stage performance can. In particular the mise-en-scene, can be used to emphasise and create an aspirational lifestyle.
Different types of music videos & conventions
Illustration- illustrated music videos usually include performance or narration and generally illustrate lyrics and visualise the music. This type of music video is quite simple and is also known as ‘denotation’ of the song, it communicates the idea behind the song and the visuals and lyrics are usually closely related.
Amplification- the conventions of this type of music video combine both music performance and narrative, they tend to amplify the idea behind the music and lyrics and go toward a creative interpretation, not always so simplistic. This type of video generally include quite unique ideas, often with a sense of surrealism or make-believe, however always have a direct to the song, also known as connotative, usually linking to the song, title or artist.
Disjuncture- this video type usually concludes of rather abstract ideas, with no true link to the music, title, lyrics or artist. In general these videos are very disjointed from the nature of the song and can have quite a strong effect, if done in an effective manner.
Conventions of performance in music videos
-Usually these music videos present authenticity in the performance, making the audience believe that they are genuinely playing live.
- This authenticity is communicated via the use of lip syncing and close ups of the lead singer, also communicating status.
-Camera shots of the instruments being played is also common.
-repetition of shots within the chorus of the song enhances repeatability.
- Crane shots are often used to emulate the illusion of view from the audience.
Solo Artist performance
-Usually very staged and choreographed.
-Often with a range of dance routines.
-Many close up shots of the lead singer.
-Cutting between the performance and artist is quite dominant throughout the video.
-Lead artist generally takes on the lead role in the video, or as the narrator in storyline.