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Gambling cowboy

Sound and Vision : The Music Video Reader

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This content was uploaded by our users and we assume good faith they have the permission to share this book. If you own the copyright to this book and it is wrongfully on our website, we offer a simple DMCA procedure to remove your content from our site. Start by pressing the button below! It has had a profound impact both on music, fashion and youth culture, and on the codes and forms that operate across television, film and advertising. But until now criticism has denied the specific nature of the form and its cultural history.

Sound and Vision is the first significant collection of new and classic texts on video and brings together some of the leading international cultural and music critics writing today.

Addressing one of the most controversial forms of popular culture in the contemporary world, the book confronts easy interpretations of music television—as promotional vehicles, filmic images, postmodern culture—to offer a new and bold understanding of its place in pop music, television and the media industries.

Moving debates on from such early preoccupations as whether videos are promotions of songs or simply mini-films, or whether they represent the destruction or the salvation of pop music, Sound and Vision acknowledges the history of the commercial status of pop music as a whole, as well as its complex relations with other media, to offer a new and refreshing interpretation which takes both terms—music and video—seriously.

Sound and Vision will be an essential text for students of popular music and popular culture. Robert Walser. No part of this book may be reprinted or reproduced or utilized in any form or by any electronic, mechanical, or other means, now known or hereafter invented, including photocopying and recording, or in any information storage or retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publishers.

Includes bibliographical references and index. Music videos. Frith, Simon. Goodwin, Andrew III. Grossberg, Lawrence. M87S68 Mark Fenster is a visiting lecturer in Telecommunications at Indiana University.

Lisa A. She lives in Los Angeles where she is peddling her feature script about the life of nineteenth-century musician, Clara Schumann.

Leslie Savan writes the Op-Ad column, a pioneering critique of television advertising for the Village Voice. He holds doctoral degrees in musicology and musical performance from the University of Minnesota, and he has performed professionally on guitar and trumpet in many countries. We attempt to begin that task in this book, by bringing together a variety of approaches many of them written specifically for this volume that highlight the necessarily interdisciplinary nature of the work, whilst paying particular attention to the most debilitating neglect in music video research: the absence of attention to the music itself, and its location within the pop music industry.

Thus far, the study of music television has been dominated by research which originates beyond the parameters of popular music studies. Whether in the analysis of individual promotional video clips or in the study of televisual packages, much MTV Music Television work in this field has emerged from the disciplines of film studies, mass communications or literary theory, and from theoretical concerns with postmodernism and psychoanalytic theory.

This is not the place to rehearse our reservations about much of this work a critique that is addressed in the following pages by Andrew Goodwin, and—more obliquely—by Will Straw and Robert Walser. As Will Straw makes clear in the first chapter of this anthology, music videos and their relation to postmodernism can be explained in terms of an analysis of developments internal to the music and its culture.

Straw locates the emergence of MTV in the context of the emergence of a new pop mainstream in the early s. These responses, which reshaped the roles of career and biography, celebrity and glamour, allow a more concrete understanding of the apparent proximity of music videos and postmodernist descriptions.

Jody Berland continues the logic of this argument by exploring the paradoxical relationship that exists between the image and the sound in music videos. Focusing on the symbol of the guitar in rock culture, she considers the historically changing relations between image and sound as tropes of new relations within the culture of popular music between music and technology, and community and space.

Embedded in these processes is an old debate—the question of whether television addresses its audience as citizen or consumer.

While critics familiar with MTV and MTV Europe might assume that the latter has long since won out over the former, the British experience does suggest the possibility of alternatives. In Part III of this book, we offer four exemplary attempts to read the music video clips themselves. Mark Fenster, on the other hand, looks at a much-neglected form: promotional videos which sell country music. Finally, Lawrence Grossberg returns to the themes raised by Straw, Berland and Goodwin, arguing that the particular forms and power of music video which emerged in the s are icons of a new media economy, of a new ratio between sound and vision, within the disparate spaces of rock culture.

This new economy, he argues, can be seen within the visual imagery itself by comparing, for example, different movies oriented to the rock audience. Ultimately, this new economy represents the decline of the ideology of authenticity and the emergence of new forms of relations between fans and their music.

Our aim in this book is thus two-fold: to provide a set of readings that may be used in teaching about music television in a broad and open-ended fashion, and at the same time to collect those analyses which have helped to move the study of music television forward, along with some new pieces which suggest future lines of research.

At one level, music television is the latest in a succession of privileged examples invoked in the elaboration of scenarios about the development of the media and culture within late capitalist societies, joining a long list that has included jazz music and advertising. As well, the particular set of theoretical discourses brought to bear on music video signals new alliances and convergences across and within various disciplinary boundaries.

It is to a significant extent within studies of music video that the internal crises and territorial disputes which currently mark film theory, television studies, the debate over postmodernism and the sociology of popular music are being foregrounded. Seen from a somewhat different light, recent treatments of music video represent the entry of post-structuralist thought into the American social sciences, where it has converged with sociological concerns and premisses of long-standing those having to do with the status of mass culture around the work and ideas of Baudrillard.

The first wave of treatments tended to come from the culture surrounding rock music and from those who were primarily interested in music video as something which produced effects on that music. In retrospect, these fears seem to have been rooted, less in a specific concern about possible new relationships between sound and image, than in a longstanding caution about the relationship between rock music as a culture of presumed resistance and television as the embodiment of mainstream show business and commercial culture.

It may be argued, however, that while the debate over celebrity, authenticity and artifice prominent within Anglo-American rock culture in the early s was in part provoked Popular music and postmordenism in the s 3 by issues surrounding music video, it was by no means confined to such issues.

The particular appeal of music video here is the extent to which it appears to magnify the characteristic functioning of television in general, itself now regarded as the medium most typical of postmodern culture. One finds within much of this writing the articulation of two themes with long and notorious histories within sociologies of the media and of culture: on the one hand, a view of television as embodying the very structure of knowledge and perception in the latter part of the twentieth century; on the other, a view of youth culture as either the most debased or most resistant of cultural forms.

Music video was one of a number of innovations producing major structural changes in the music-related industries during that period, but it is unlikely that it was the most important of these, nor that many of them would not have occurred without it. The most important of these transformations was the constitution of a new pop music mainstream in North America in the years —3. This mainstream represented the convergence of a number of developments each involving a partial resolution of problems which the recording industry had recognized since the late s : the rebirth of Top 40, singles-based radio, and with it significant shifts in the relative influence of different music audience groups; an increase in the rate of turnover of successful records and artist career spans; the recovery of the record industry after a four-year slump; and the beginning of music video programming on a national scale.

Together, these developments displaced, if only for a time, what was widely regarded as a permanent structural crisis within the recording industry. By the late s, it was apparent that the objectives of radio broadcasters and record companies were in conflict in important ways: advertisers urged radio stations to pursue audiences those in their late twenties and older who were not actively engaged in the purchasing of records, though their overall patterns of consumption made them attractive.

The new mainstream of —3 had its roots in two developments on the margins of these overall trends. On the one hand, certain radio stations in highly competitive markets most notably KROQ-FM in San Diego found it feasible to target audiences encompassing disproportionate numbers of teens and females, rather than compete for a small segment of the traditionally more attractive audience of young male adults.

While this audience was attractive to advertisers only in a highly competitive and fragmented market, it was extremely useful to record companies inasmuch as it responded quickly and enthusiastically to musical innovation and became a significant force in record sales during this period. MTV and similar networks were at one level simply the latest in a series of encounters between television and popular music, encounters which had increasingly proved unsuccessful.

Historically, the audience group most active in buying new records males in their late teens and early twenties is underrepresented within television audiences. While, in absolute terms, that audience was of limited appeal to television advertisers, the traditional impossibility of reaching it at all via television and the precision with which music television networks could target this constituency ensured some level of success.

MTV had as its original target audience the 12—34 age demographic, which overlapped significantly with that for album-oriented rock radio and included a similarly high proportion of males.

This re-enfranchisement of younger teenagers, and especially adolescent girls, as radio listeners and record buyers should be seen as a crucial factor in the emergence of certain kinds of para-musical practices around the new musical mainstream. At the same time, Anglo-American popular music underwent a process of generic stabilization.

Certain formal characteristics came to be found in almost all successful examples of that music, and a mainstream with more stylistic coherence than any, perhaps, since the mid-late s, could be seen to have arrived.

The most important of these characteristics was no doubt the restriction of almost all musical practice to the format of the 3—5-minute pop song, but the use of dance-related rhythms and some combination of black-and-white rock idioms were almost equally common.

Popular music and postmordenism in the s 5 The most common way in which these developments have been understood is in terms of a narrative of recuperation: the new mainstream is seen to have enacted, for major record companies, the long-desired co-optation of the critical gestures and innovations of punk, its integration within the mechanisms of celebrity turnover and pop-chart homogeneity.

While the increased popularity of British acts within the new American mainstream is a significant phenomenon within the recent history of the recorded music industry, it itself may be viewed most profitably in terms of the ongoing negotiation of a relationship between white rock music and black-based dance music.

The historically significant tensions and processes of incorporation within American popular music over the last decade, I would argue, are those between an album-based, predominantly white rock music and the idioms and institutional functioning of dance music.

It is this relationship which is crucial to a useful historical understanding of the period in which music video came to assume importance, and to an account of change within the functioning of the music-related industries. Within these developments, the trajectories followed by punk music are of secondary importance, despite the extent to which they are privileged within most historical accounts. The most important of these changes, I would argue, are a an increase in the rate of turnover of acts and records, and general intensification of the velocity of rock music and rock culture; b the resurgence of the rpm single and the individual song as the basic units within the marketing of rock music; and c changes in the function of celebrity and performer identity within rock culture.

Within each of these changes, the introduction of music video is one of a number of determinant factors. Velocity By the late s, various mechanisms within the music-related industries had slowed down considerably. The elapsed time between albums by major artists was long, resulting in regular complaints about the shortage of new products.

The markers of change and development within individual careers were infrequent, as the time spent on the charts by each successful record stretched into one to two years, and sales of several hundred thousand copies became virtually necessary to justify rapidly rising production costs. The time between recording was frequently taken up with lengthy, time-consuming tours, themselves necessary components in the successful promotion of an album.

This slowing down was not limited to certain measurable processes recording, touring, etc. Affected as well was the extent to which, for the radio listener or recordbuyer, monitoring the turnover of music was useful and significant for the marking of cultural or social distinction. This slowing down of the velocity of innovation in the late s accompanied the ageing of the core rock audience and its movement out of the age-ranges in which it is most involved in the purchasing of recorded music and in what might be called emblematic uses of rock music and information about it.

Alongside this mainstream, the sorts of functioning associated with disco music represented a much heightened velocity, based on a markedly different set of institutional relationships and audience positions. Whereas the promotional itinerary for album-rock involved the passage from record companies to radio-format consultants and from these to radio stations, that for disco involved much more immediate forms of feedback: moreor-less instantaneous reporting from record pools and retail stores to radio stations.

The mechanisms for the promotion of disco by record labels involved a series of successive decisions as to the allocation of resources, each based on rapid information from those monitoring response in clubs or within the retail sector. When MTV was launched in in the US, it had as one of its principal goals the breaking of records which were unable to make the playlists of album-rock radio stations, and it expected to serve as a testing ground for records before their possible adoption by radio station playlists.

It was not so much the reach of MTV that was important in this respect as the simultaneity of that reach, and subsequent direct measurable impact on sales.

While the aggregate audience of the major FM rock stations in the US was likely greater than that for MTV, playlist adoption of a new record by these stations was likely to be staggered and uneven, while exposure on MTV was even across the country. Both MTV and dance clubs preceded radio in their adoption of new records for playlists; the difference between them, obviously, lay in the fact that dance clubs were for the most part inner urban phenomena, while MTV reached suburban and small-town areas.

The impact of MTV should be seen as resulting, not Popular music and postmordenism in the s 7 simply from the specific repertory which dominated its playlists at the beginning, but from the extent to which, in conjunction with a resurgent Top 40 radio, it increased the velocity of innovation. Format This increased velocity was accompanied by the resurgence of the single rpm record as a commodity form and promotional material within rock music.

As Top 40, CHR or Hot Hits radio formats and the dance-club circuit became important elements in the sequence through which a record was promoted, the selection of a single from an album as the focus of promotion acquired an importance which it had not had since the early s. In this respect, perhaps the most significant development in which music video participated was the institution of the single-song as the crucial factor in the marketing of an album.

Inasmuch as one cut must be selected for the production of an initial videoclip, this song becomes the pivot around which promotional strategies are organized. Even when several songs from an album are selected for single and videoclip release, these releases occur in succession and are based on calculations as to the speed of response of particular audience groups.

This remains the case despite the slowing down of turnover on the major charts which has occurred since Increasingly, as specialized radio formats and charts such as those for so-called Black, Dance and Adult Contemporary musics have become integrated within the functioning of the mainstream, their distinctiveness is based on the rapidity and intensity with which their particular constituencies respond to innovation rather than on a set of substantive tastes which they manifest.

In this respect, the videoclip is one among a number of permutations of the basic single-song unit which circulate within the field of rock music today; dance mixes, instrumental versions and excerpts used as part of motionpicture soundtracks are other examples of this. The renewed participation of adolescents within the audiences for Hollywood films and the mechanisms of fashion turnover is a further index of the revitalization of commodity production directed at this group.

Sound and Vision 8 This should, however, be seen as part of a more general process involving the proliferation and intensification of discourse around rock music. Musical styles and periods within the history of popular music may be distinguished according to the quantity and forms of information which surround the playing and consumption of music.

In periods marked by a high rate of turnover, information about the position of records relative to each other according to some measure of popularity generally is widely disseminated and monitored, and published sales charts and other means of monitoring relative success and marking change attract a high level of public interest.

The failure of radio disc jockeys to identify records was seen as limiting the sales potential of country and adult contemporary records.

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