Research- Secondary Research- historical context

When developing a singular music video it is important to research the development of music videos as a whole throughout history. This can give me ideas of a direction to take my music video in comparison to the direction music videos have followed through time.


The first known ‘Music video’ was made in 1894, film was not yet developed however a device nicknamed a ‘magic lantern’ was used by George Thomas when asked to sync a magic lantern display with a live performance. A magic lantern is a type of projector using light shined through painted glass slides. Music at that stage rarely contained vocals and instead was a performance by an orchestra. Because of this the visuals where an interpretation of the music by the composer. From as early as this production we can see the influence art has had on music videos.


‘On October 6, 1927. movie audiences sat enthralled as they saw- and heard- something very new’ (quote from the book ‘The History of Music Videos’ By Hal Marcovitz)

The 1920s began the fall of silent cinema, some film theorist marked this era as the fall of cinema, others used audio to create new and innovative styles of cinema such as music videos. This performance was one of the first pieces to be synced with a song before these singers were only heard and not seen. This production allowed fans to see a non-live performance of their favorite musicians. This was a huge step that laid the foundations for the music video industry.

‘The jazz singer was the top grossing film of the year although only five hundred theaters in the whole country were wired for sound’ (quote from the book ‘The History of Music Videos’ By Hal Marcovitz)

This shows what an impact the destruction of silent cinema and the introduction of visual audio cinema had on the film industry this was a revolutionary step in the relationship between film and music with effects that are still lasting to this day with the ever-evolving capabilities of film audio.


In the 1930’s we start to see how narrative visuals are implemented into music performance, these ‘short films’ were shown before motion pictures at the movie theaters, they combined interactive visuals with the singer’s performance this was one of the first manifestations of what would later be known as a music video.


The popularization of music videos escalated in the 1960s when a man by the name of Serge Gainsbourg invented the Scopitone, this was somewhat like a jukebox with a very small screen, they were placed inside bars and clubs and would play a music video with the music synced. These became very popular around Europe. The music videos were tailored for viewing on this small screen with very few long shot or wide angles. This was a step towards the content we now view on the small screens of our phones.


During this time period, the expense of creating music videos became cheaper and artists started seeing them for the promotional properties they hold. Bands such as the beetles started creating music videos for all of their popular songs and advertising them to their fans. This kickstarted the music video industry resulting in its snowballing effect to where we are now.

Directors and artists began to distance themselves from the recording of live performances and started focusing on cinematic techniques to portray their music and the meaning behind the lyrics. As the tools for portraying the infrequency of music became available Bob Dylan made a production that would pave the way for thousands of music videos of the sort.

The music video for Bob Dylans ‘Subterranean Homesick Blues’  contained on-screen lyrics and thus became the creation of the now highly popular ‘Lyric videos’.

Music videos can almost definitely be thanked for the acknowledgment of artistic and avant gard directors such as the notorious Peter Goldman. He is the mastermind behind these weird and wonderful music videos:

Due to Goldman’s creations with the beetles, artists and labels began to interact with experimental filmmakers. this dove the music video industry into the abnormal realm of aesthetics and visual art. This movement moved amazing films once only limited to arthouse to the pop world. These creators gave birth to legendary creations such as pink Floyds ‘Interstellar Overdrive’ (1968).


The 1980s is the year that video killed the radio star, The potential that music videos held (and still holds) meant that they became more popular and intertwined with the music scene than radio. In 1981 MTV televised the song ‘Video Killed The Radio Star’ by the Buggles. The song outlined how video has killed the radio star. The very fact this was broadcasted on MTV literally meaning Music Television shows the mass influence video has made on the music scene.

The early 1980s became the hight of the music video industry with some music videos having a bigger budget than most feature films, one, in particular, is the famous Michael Jacksons Thriller. This music video shaped the era of music videos and changed how directors of the industry think. Thriller focused on the theme of cinema to create a music video that combined cinema with music the budget for the production exceeded that of most feature films at $500,000. The music video was broadcasted at film theaters as well as being recorded to VHS tapes. The Music video was certified as a 15 by the BBFC.


The Music video industry rapidly grew throughout this time branching into all areas of production such as SGI and animation. Music videos continued to be popularised and created on an extreamly low budget by smaller bands especially with the implement of new and affordable recording equipment.

Stop motion animation

SGI and special effects

2005- present

The creation of the video platform ‘Youtube’ Changed the music video industry once again. By the early 2000s, MTV began to stop showing music videos in place of trashy reality Tv shows. Youtube kick-started the Material MTV used to broadcast in a spectacular fashion, Amature filmmakers introduced the era of homemade music videos that showcased fresh new concepts and talent. By mid-2000s digital cameras became far more affordable meaning the quality of these homemade music videos started already in high grounds. Small bands were made famous because of their music videos being posted on a platform making it accessible to millions of people worldwide. A perfect example would be a band called ‘Ok Go’.

In 2006 ‘Ok Go’ posted this masterpiece. The Music video to their song ‘Here it goes again’ The concept for this music video was so simple yet extremely effective, the band organized a routine on a set of treadmills, the music video is a continuous shot from one angle, the music video alone made the band famous with over 45 million hits online although some may argue it was a one-hit wonder.


This research has informed me that there is a large variety of film styles that can be implemented into my music video, I have seen the styles and effects of music videos from the 80s and 70s, this has supported my stylistic choices of using a retro aesthetic. Seeing the progression of music videos have confirmed my choice to develop a surrealist production that differs into a new evolution of music videos popularised by the experimental techniques of peter Goldman.


Secrets, A., Ozbay, H., Conventions of Music Videos – Jack Tothill, L., Production, C., Conventions of Music Videos – Luka Plavljanic, L. and Christian-Collins, C. (2019). A Brief History of Music Video – From early 1900s to today. [online] Matheus Siqueira. Available at: [Accessed 24 Feb. 2019].

YouTube. (2019). Björk – All is Full of Love (Official Music Video). [online] Available at: [Accessed 24 Feb. 2019].

YouTube. (2019). Bob Dylan – Subterranean Homesick Blues. [online] Available at: [Accessed 24 Feb. 2019].

YouTube. (2019). Mammy – Al Jolson (Jazz Singer performance). [online] Available at: [Accessed 24 Feb. 2019].

YouTube. (2019). OK Go – Here It Goes Again. [online] Available at: [Accessed 24 Feb. 2019].

YouTube. (2019). Pink Floyd – Interstellar Overdrive (unreleased) HQ. [online] Available at: [Accessed 24 Feb. 2019].

YouTube. (2019). Serge Gainsbourg, Le Poinçonneur des Lilas, 1959. [online] Available at: [Accessed 24 Feb. 2019].

YouTube. (2019). SM001 Crying For The Carolines (Dec., 1930). [online] Available at: [Accessed 24 Feb. 2019].

YouTube. (2019). Strawberry Fields Forever – Restored HD Video. [online] Available at: [Accessed 24 Feb. 2019].

YouTube. (2019). The Beatles – Penny Lane. [online] Available at: [Accessed 24 Feb. 2019].

YouTube. (2019). The Beatles – We Can Work it Out. [online] Available at: [Accessed 24 Feb. 2019].

YouTube. (2019). The White Stripes-Fell In Love With A Girl. [online] Available at: [Accessed 24 Feb. 2019].

Landis, J., Jackson, M., Ray, O. and (voice), V. (2019). MICHAEL JACKSON’S THRILLER | British Board of Film Classification. [online] Available at: [Accessed 24 Feb. 2019].

Marcovitz, H. (2012). The history of music videos. Farmington Hills, Mich: Lucent Books.




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