Published on: Mar 3, 2016
Transcripts - Narrative a2(1b)
Music Videos &
• Tim O’Sullivan (1998) argues that all
media texts tell us some kind of story.
•Media texts offer a way of telling stories about
ourselves – not usually our own personal stories, but
the story of us as a culture or set of cultures.
• Narrative theory sets out to show that what
we experience when we ‘read’ a story is to
understand a particular set of constructions,
or conventions, and that it is important to
be aware of how these constructions are put
3 Important words
Narrative: The structure of a story.
Diegesis: The fictional space and time implied by the
narrative – the world in which the story takes place.
Verisimilitude: Literally – the quality of
appearing to be real or true. For a story to
engage us it must appear to be real to us as
we watch it (the diegetic effect). The story
must therefore have verisimilitude –
following the rules of continuity, temporal
and spacial coherence
Applying the concept
Look carefully at your video at how the story is structured and how the
audience is positioned (i.e. who are we led to identify with?)
Consider the following:
How is the narrative organised and structured? Beginning, middle, end
(Linear) Jumping forward and backward (Non-linear) or Circular
narrative (Returning to the same beginning point).
How is the conflict/complication established and how it is resolved? The
complication stage should be the most compelling.
The construction of the characters in the text and how we are led to
relate to them
How heroes and villains are created within the text?
The importance of sound, music, iconography, mise-en-scene, editing
and other technical features in telling the story.
How the themes and ideas are put forward in the story.
Your chosen track :
1. Summarise the lyrics in your music video or the script in
2. How far did you choose to follow these in your
3. Are there key lines that you are choosing to give visual
Are you choosing to concentrate on the music with the
visuals/ use abstract visuals?
How much narrative?
“videos tend to only suggest storylines and
focus on fragments of the lyrics” (Steve
Documentary relies heavily on the traditional
conventions of narrative. There is a definite
beginning, middle and end. Other
conventions of narrative forms are also used,
including music, special settings and lighting.
The Main Artist
1. What role does the artist/main character play in
your production – narrator, protagonist or both?
Is the video a vehicle for the artist’s star
persona? (Refer back to Andrew Goodwin)
1. Did you chose a subjective or objective character
identity in your music video/documentary and
(Subjective character identity – a range of characters
‘stories’ or points of view are shown.
Objective character identity – one characters story or
point of view is shown)
Importance of the mise-en-
scene in your narrative
Does your mise-en-scene:
Add authenticity to your singer/ band/characters?
Is it key to establishing setting and relationships?
Is it part of the voyeuristic context e.g. By suggesting a
setting associated with sexual allure like a sleazy nightclub
or boudoir? When natural lighting/poor lighting is used in a
documentary it gives the impression of being more real.
Is it to emphasise an aspirational lifestyle for the audience
Music videos can be characterized by
3 broad types, Firth 1988:
Performance (to convey a sense of the in-concert experience)
"Performance oriented visuals cue viewers that the recording of the music
is the most significant element. (BUT see John Berger)
Narrative (linear, love stories most popular – “Action in the story is
dominated by males who do things and females who passively react or
wait for something to happen” (Schwichtenberg, 1992)).
Conceptual (metaphors to create a mood, offer multiple meanings)
These types describe the form and content selected by the director or artist
to attract viewers and to convey a direct or indirect message.
They can act as extended advertisements, as popular art forms or as self-
referential filmic texts (e.g Madonna videos)
Modes of documentary
You can generally categorise documentary
into just two approaches:
1. History and biography: Dealing with events
of the past, usually involving some re-creation.
2. Filming behaviour: intending to portray
different groups of people and are
Explain which type of documentary you have
Narrative and Performance:
Steve Archer (2004)
“Often, music videos will cut between a narrative
and a performance of the song by the band.
Additionally, a carefully choreographed dance
might be part of the artist’s performance or an
extra aspect of the video designed to aid
visualisation and the ‘repeatability’ factor.
Sometimes, the artist (especially the singer) will be
part of the story , acting as narrator and
participant at the same time. But it is the lip synch
close-up and the miming of playing instrument s
that remains at the heart of music videos, as if to
assure us that the band really can kick it.”
Applying Andrew Goodwin to
your music video
What is the is a relationship between lyrics and visuals
Is your narrative:
Illustrative? (images provide a literal
Amplifying? (repetition of key meanings and
effects to manipulate the audience)
Contradicting? (images contrast with the music)
Disjuncture?: (When the meaning of the song is
Applying Michael Rabiger
(1998) to your Documentary
Aim to convey a personal, critical
perspective on some aspect of the
Contain dramatic suspense via situations
that intrigue the audience.
Tell a good story.
After analysing folk tales, Propp developed a theory that within each
narrative there are a set of stock characters, which reappear in every
These roles are:
Hero – Person on the quest
Princess – Prize for the hero
Helper – Helps the hero on his quest
False hero – Somebody who believes they are the hero
Dispatcher – Sends the hero on their quest
Father – Rewards the hero
Villain – Attempts to stop the hero on his quest
Donor – Provides objects to help the hero on his quest
Levi-Strauss’ theory dictated that in every media
text there are binary oppositions, or a conflict
between two opposites. The audience
subsequently are aware of who they should side
with, and this technique can also help create a
political theme within a text. For example:
Good & Bad
Rich & Poor
Eastern & Western World
Love & Hate
Barthes was a French semiologist who identified 5 different codes by
which a narrative engages the attention of the audience.
In order of importance these are:
The enigma code- the audience is intrigued by the need to solve a
The action code – the audience is excited by the need to resolve a
The semantic code – the audience is directed towards an
additional meaning by way of connotation
The symbolic code – the audience assumes that a character
dressed in black is evil or menacing and forms expectations of his/
her behaviour on this basis
The cultural code – the audience derives meaning in a text from
shared cultural knowledge about the way the world works.
Stage 1: A point of stable equilibrium, where
everything is satisfied, calm and normal.
Stage 2: This stability is disrupted by some kind of
force, which creates a state of disequilibrium.
Stage 3: Recognition that a disruption has taken
Stage 4: It is only possible to re-create equilibrium
through action directed against the disruption.
Stage 5: Restoration of a new state of equilibrium.
The consequences of the reaction is to change
the world of the narrative and/or the characters
so that the final state of equilibrium in not the
same as the initial state.
Claude Lèvi-Strauss (1958) his ideas about
narrative amount to the fact that he believed all stories operated to
certain clear Binary Opposites e.g. good vs. evil, black vs. white, rich
vs. poor etc.
The importance of these ideas is that essentially a
complicated world is reduced to a simple
either/or structure. Things are either right or wrong,
good or bad. There is no in between.
This structure has ideological implications, if, for
example, you want to show that the hero was not
wholly correct in what they did, and the villains
weren’t always bad. (Postmodernism