Narrative and Performance
Narrative in songs, as in poetry, is rarely complete and often fragmentary (David Bowie is renowned for writing words and then jumbling them up sporadically to create his lyrics). The same is true for music promos , which tend to suggest storylines or offer complex fragments in a non-linear order, leaving the viewer with the desire to see them again.
Often, music videos will cut between a narrative and a performance of the song by the band. Additionally, a crefeul choreographed dance might be a 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 a part of the story, acting as a narrator and participant at the same time. But it is the lyp sync close-up shots and the miming of playing instruments that remains at the heart of music videos.
The video allows the audience more varied access to the performer than a live stage performance can. The close-up, allowing the eye contact and close observation of facial gestures, and role play, within a narrative framework, present the artist in a number of ways not possible in a live performance. The mise en scene in particular can be used:
· As a guarantee of ‘Authenticity’ of a band’s musical virtuosity by showing them in a stage performance or a rehersal room
· To establish a relationship to familiar film or TV genre in a narrative based video.
· As part of the voyeuristic context by suggesting a setting associated with sexual allure, such a s a sleazy night club or boudoir.
· Or as John Stewart from the Oil Factory suggests, to emphasise an aspirational lifestyle.
One of the best narrative videos I've seen - also not too linear.See below for how the Directors made it.