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5.5 Genre and the music video (Std, ES and EAL/D)

A music video is made up of words, music and images that work together to create a message, often through a narrative structure because story is so important. There are many different patterns of stories and these patterns can be categorised as a particular genre, such as romance, tragedy, adventure and others.

The music video goes beyond the song and creates a whole story: a narrative structure supports the words of the song and is illustrated through characters, setting and actions. Just as music can be divided into genres, so can narratives. The country music genre, for example, might match a story about growing up, or a romance.

The different storytelling genres are a quick way for advertisers to connect with an audience and convey the message. The audience knows the type of story and they like it so they listen. Audiences also connect with particular styles of music video which can be categorised as genres (rock; classical; heavy metal; Europop; folk, etcetera). Genres can be found in different forms and media such as: written narratives; as drama on radio; as a digital story via the internet; or as a film.

In this section of the resource you will explore the way advertising uses different music video conventions and narrative genres to engage an audience.

Camera conventions as part of genre

The music video is multimodal, needing you to listen and view simultaneously but the selection of visuals and sounds can also be specific to a particular genre. For example, in a romance film, you may find more close ups or out of focus images accompanied by soft music to convey the idea of love. In a horror film, the over the shoulder shot or tracking shot will suggest someone is being followed or watched, while a repeated musical beat will suggest increasing anxiety.  

Like film and video, still images, use different camera angles and shots to convey a message. Camerawork is not just about what looks good; it is a very clever way of creating mood and conveying ideas that are part of the genre.

Visual markers - Calling the shots

Camerawork is not just about what looks good; it is a very clever way of creating mood and conveying ideas.

Using student worksheet 5.5.1 Calling the shots (Std, ES and EAL/D), label each image with the correct camera shot from the list provided. You may need to look up what each shot means before starting.

  • Explain the effect of each shot under the image. 
  • Lighting also adds to the visuality of the advertisements. Which shots have interesting lighting? Explain what message the lighting conveys.
  • How is the mobile phone being used in the images where it appears?
  • How is the person with the mobile phone represented?

Bringing it all together

Explain how the images in the Get your hand off it sequence use the conventions of the country tale.

What type of humour is being used? Locate specific evidence and explain how the humour works.

How does the camerawork create a sense of character?

Watch the video and comment on how it develops a romance story.

Creating a narrative from the video

If we read the transcript of the country version of the Get Your Hand Off It advertisement, we see a story unfold but we have to fill in the gaps. When we outline the details of the song many questions arise.

The scene

Questions that arise

Derek is walking along a country lane

Why? What has happened? Where is he going?

He’s thinking about his love that is so far away

Who (or what) is his love?

He’s thinking of his old car and the instagram of his latte

Why would anyone instagram a coffee cup?    

Why isn’t he in the car right now?

A lady on the side of the road is playing guitar

What is she warning him about?

There’s a sound of a crash

Derek has had an accident. Now we start to see the story come together

Narrative structure

There is clearly a story developing but we have to fill in the gaps. On page 3 of the student worksheet 5.5.1 Calling the shots (Std, ES and EAL/D), analyse the text according to its structure to see how the advertisement uses narrative to make its point.

Narrative is a powerful genre we can use to send out a message. We tend to identify with one of the characters who provide an example of human behaviour. The story is as lesson in cause and effect – about motivation and choices that lead to an outcome.

We can map it out in this way: 

While we can see a narrative structure and the sense of a romance it is not at the moment a story. As a story, it needs a lot more development to build up the mood that the visual effects and music add as we watch.

Writing a narrative

Let’s complete the narrative on pages 4, 5 and 6 of the student worksheet 5.5.1: Calling the shots by adding detail following the instructions given in the first column.

Comparing genres

Try the same activity of creating a narrative with the other two versions of the music videos – the rock and the hipster ads.

Which genre do you think would be most effective in preventing texting while driving?

Record your answers on page 7 of the student worksheet, then choose your own music style and write a chorus.

Last update: 16th January 2019