Music Video & Popular Culture
Run by School of Music, Drama and Performance
20.000 Credits or 10.000 ECTS Credits
Organiser: Dr John Cunningham
Overall aims and purpose
Although often dismissed as low art, the music video is a highly significant aspect of popular culture, reflecting various trends. The music video has its origins as marketing tools intended to promote sound recordings and can be traced back to the early twentieth century. By the 1980s with the airing of the television channel MTV the music video enjoyed a resurgence and developed into a distinct art form using a range of increasingly sophisticated narrative and cinematic tools in short format. Especially since the growth of online platforms such as YouTube, music videos have become an increasingly integral part of our experience of popular music.
Through the prism of cultural history, this module will provide students with: (1) a comprehensive introduction to the development of music videos in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries; (2) an analytical framework within which these cultural artefacts may be understood.
The music video will broadly defined to include not just promotional films to accompany single songs, but also films such as Hard Day’s Night which fulfil a similar function in a longer format.
Prior musical training or the ability to read music is not required for this module; it is open to students beyond Music. The module will appeal to students interested in modern popular culture, film, identity, representation, music, visual arts.
This module will explore how popular music is/has been consumed through visual media and will examine examples from the repertoire. Thus the module is both historical and analytical. It will encompass a range of genres (broadly defined), including rock, rap, metal, pop – students will be encouraged to provide suggestions for case studies. Central to the critique will be the development of MTV in the early 1980s and the impact that had on the consumption of popular culture and on the music industry; central to the exploration will be the idea of the music video as a culturally significant art form. We will also explore the early development of the form in the early twentieth century as well as forms of promotional music videos and films (with music) made by popular groups from the 1960s onwards. Using a range of case studies, we will utilise a range of analytical techniques to understand how to interpret music videos, visually and narratively. We will also look at controversial (and banned) music videos to understand more about the interaction of popular (music) youth culture and censorship and expressions of authority, repression and defiance. Please note that this module may explore themes including but not limited to: gender representation, violence, sex and sexuality in modern culture, religion, drug use.
D– to D+: Work which demonstrates an adequate knowledge of the subject, with limited ability at conceptual and critical thinking, expressed intelligibly.
C- to C+
C– to C+: Work which demonstrates a competent grasp of the subject, with adequate conceptual and critical thinking, expressed understandably.
A– to A**: Work which demonstrates a thorough grasp of the subject, with evidence of originality in conceptual and critical thinking, expressed convincingly.
B– to B: Work which demonstrates a good grasp of the subject, with strong conceptual and critical thinking, expressed engagingly.
On successful completion of the module, the student should be able to demonstrate a detailed understanding of scholarly literature relating to the history and development of music videos (as broadly defined)
On successful completion of the module, the student should be able to apply knowledge of analytical methodologies to in the review of specific music videos (as broadly defined)
On successful completion of the module, the student should be able to demonstrate the ability to apply skills of source-based research and critical thinking in relation to the works studied
On successful completion of the module, the student should be able to communicate effectively ideas about the works studied
Presentation: critically assessing a single ‘music video’.
For the main assignment you can submit either a 3000-word essay from a list of topics designed for year 2 students. The style of the essay is flexible (e.g. formal, journalistic).
Teaching and Learning Strategy
One seminar each week (one hour)
|Practical classes and workshops||
Two one-hour workshops on the assessments.
In addition to the classes and assessments, you will be expected to complete preparatory and further reading / viewing, as well as to familiarise yourself with a broad range of music videos (from various genres). You will be given tasks to complete ahead of seminars, which ideally should be done in small groups.
One two-hour lecture each week.
- Literacy - Proficiency in reading and writing through a variety of media
- Numeracy - Proficiency in using numbers at appropriate levels of accuracy
- Self-Management - Able to work unsupervised in an efficient, punctual and structured manner. To examine the outcomes of tasks and events, and judge levels of quality and importance
- Exploring - Able to investigate, research and consider alternatives
- Information retrieval - Able to access different and multiple sources of information
- Inter-personal - Able to question, actively listen, examine given answers and interact sensitevely with others
- Critical analysis & Problem Solving - Able to deconstruct and analyse problems or complex situations. To find solutions to problems through analyses and exploration of all possibilities using appropriate methods, rescources and creativity.
- Presentation - Able to clearly present information and explanations to an audience. Through the written or oral mode of communication accurately and concisely.
- Teamwork - Able to constructively cooperate with others on a common task, and/or be part of a day-to-day working team
- Argument - Able to put forward, debate and justify an opinion or a course of action, with an individual or in a wider group setting
- Leadership - Able to lead and manage, develop action plans and objectives, offer guidance and direction to others, and cope with the related pressures such authority can result in
Subject specific skills
- Artistic engagement and ability to articulate complex ideas in oral and written forms. (NAWE Creative Writing Benchmark Statement 3.2).
- Awareness of how different social and cultural contexts affect the nature of language and meaning (English Benchmark Statement 3.2).
- The ability to synthesize information from various sources, choosing and applying appropriate concepts and methods (English Benchmark Statement 3.3).
- Ability to formulate and solve problems, anticipate and accommodate change, and work within contexts of ambiguity, uncertainty and unfamiliarity (NAWE Creative Writing Benchmark Statement 3.2; English Benchmark Statement 3.3).
- Ability to engage in processes of drafting and redrafting texts to achieve clarity of expression and an appropriate style. (English Benchmark Statement 3.3; NAWE Creative Writing Benchmark Statement 3.2).
- Ability to gather information, analyse, interpret and discuss different viewpoints (NAWE Creative Writing Benchmark Statement 3.2; English Benchmark Statement 3.3).
- Intellectual skills specific to Music – contextual knowledge, cultural awareness, critical understanding, repertoire knowledge, curiosity, analytical demonstration
- Skills of communication and interaction – oral and written communication, public presentation, team-working and collaboration, awareness of professional protocols, sensitivity, ICT skills, etc.
- Skills of personal management – self-motivation, self-critical awareness, independence, entrepreneurship and employment skills, time management and reliability, organisation, etc.
Ability to be open-minded.
Resource implications for students
Talis Reading listhttp://readinglists.bangor.ac.uk/modules/wxm-2025.html
A detailed bibliography will be provided. Below are a list of essential texts and main resources Core texts: In the library • Clarke, Donald (1995) The Rise and Fall of Popular Music [ML3470 .C59 1995] • Middleton, Richard (1990/2002). Studying Popular Music [ML3470 .M5 1990] • Vernallis, Carol (2004) Experiencing Music Video: Aesthetics and Cultural Context [Bangor e-book]
Need to be acquired
• Banks, Jack (1996) Monopoly Television: Mtv's Quest to Control the Music
• Burns, Lori A. and Stan Hawkins, eds. (2019) The Bloomsbury Handbook of Popular Music Video Analysis • Denisoff, R. Serge (1991) Inside MTV • Frith, Simon, Andrew Goodwin & Lawrence Grossberg (1993) Sound & Vision. The music video reader
• Goodwin, Andrew (1992) Dancing in the Distraction Factory : Music Television and Popular Culture
• Kaplan, E. Ann (1987) Rocking Around the Clock. Music Television, Postmodernism, and Consumer Culture
• Keazor, Henry; Wübbena, Thorsten (2010). Rewind, Play, Fast Forward: The Past, Present and Future of the Music Video • Kleiler, David (1997) You Stand There: Making Music Video
Online journals (to which we currently have instructional access), include: • Black camera : the newsletter of the Black Film Center/Archives • Communication research • Expert systems with applications • Feminist media studies • Film criticism • Journal of British cinema and television • Journal of children and media • Journal of youth and adolescence • Music, sound and the moving image • Popular Music • Urban studies
External links: • International Online Music Video Website • Curated Online Music Video Streaming Website • The Internet Music Video Database
Courses including this module
Optional in courses:
- W3P3: BA Astudiaethau'r Cyfr & Cherdd year 2 (BA/ACC)
- WW93: BA Creative Studies and Music year 2 (BA/CSTMUS)
- 32N6: BA English Literature and Music year 2 (BA/ELM)
- 32N7: BA English Literature & Music with International Experience year 2 (BA/ELMIE)
- VW23: BA Hanes Cymru a Cherddoriaeth year 2 (BA/HCAC)
- VW13: BA History and Music year 2 (BA/HMU)
- VW14: BA History and Music with International Experience year 2 (BA/HMUIE)
- WW39: BA Music and Creative Writing with International Experience year 2 (BA/MCWIE)
- W3H6: BA Music and Electronic Engineering year 2 (BA/MEE)
- WV33: Music & Hist & Welsh Hist (IE) year 2 (BA/MHIE)
- W303: BA Music (with International Experience) year 2 (BA/MIE)
- PW33: BA Media Studies and Music year 2 (BA/MSMUS)
- RW13: BA Music/French year 2 (BA/MUFR)
- WR32: BA Music/German year 2 (BA/MUGE)
- WR33: BA Music/Italian year 2 (BA/MUIT)
- W300: BA Music year 2 (BA/MUS)
- WW38: BA Music and Creative Writing year 2 (BA/MUSCW)
- W30F: BA Music [with Foundation Year] year 2 (BA/MUSF)
- WW36: BA Music and Film Studies year 2 (BA/MUSFS)
- WR34: BA Music/Spanish year 2 (BA/MUSP)
- W3W4: BA Music with Theatre & Performance year 2 (BA/MUSTP)
- VVW3: BA Philosophy and Religion and Music year 2 (BA/PRM)
- VW2H: BA Welsh History and Music year 2 (BA/WHMU)
- QW53: BA Cymraeg/Music year 2 (BA/WMU)
- W304: BMus Music (with International Experience) year 2 (BMUS/MIE)
- W302: BMUS Music year 2 (BMUS/MUS)
- W32F: BMus Music [with Foundation Year] year 2 (BMUS/MUSF)
- H6W3: BSc Electronic Engineering and Music year 2 (BSC/EEM)