ERIC Number: ED252895
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1984-Nov-2
Visualizing Music: The Archaeology of Music-Video.
Berg, Charles M.
Music videos, with their characteristic visual energy and frenetic music-and-dance numbers, have caught on rapidly since their introduction in 1981, bringing prosperity to a slumping record industry. Creating images to accompany existing music is, however, hardly a new idea. The concept can be traced back to 1877 and Thomas Edison's invention of the phonograph. That device, with its capacity for freezing segments from time's continuum, coupled with rapid advances then being made in photography, led to the first attempts to simultaneously capture time's oral and visual components. Edison and others worked on linking phonographs and movie projectors, but synchronization remained a problem until the 1920s when Lee DeForest's invention of sound-on-film provided a reliable technology for interlocking and amplifying sounds and images. During the nickelodeon era, theatre owners found it paid to hire singers to lead their audiences in singing popular songs while showing sets of illustrated slides and then offer the sheet music for sale. With the advent of picture palaces, this song-slide practice evolved into the short promotional film for new songs, a form that foreshadowed the development of music videos. Sound films also led to the development of a genre, the musical, that incorporated singing and dancing as well as talk. The ensembles of dancers typical of such early film choreographers as Busby Berkeley and Fred Astaire embellish the latest music videos. Shorts featuring jazz and big band performers proved extremely popular during the 1930s and 1940s. In the 1940s this material began to turn up in the newly introduced slot machine movies, and by the 1960s these machines had evolved into jukeboxes featuring illustrated pop songs with the lyrics backed by choreography and staging. These films directly anticipated music videos not only in their pop music content but also in their kinetic visual style. (RBW)
Publication Type: Reports - Research; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A