Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Development of Music Videos 1930 - 1997

The first early example of what we now think of as a music video was created by Oskar Fischinger, in the 1930's. He owned a small animation company and produced a variety of 'experimental' films. Fischinger's artistic goal was to combine two forms which he felt passionate about, music and graphic arts. Many are still influenced by Fischinger's work today, below is a modern interpretation of his work.

Also during the 1930's 'Spooney Melodies' were created. These were a series of live action musical shorts which were produced by Warner Brothers, who aimed to showcase popular tracks at the time; a main reason for the production of music videos today. The videos consisted of art animations, much like Fischinger's videos, and also featured short performance sequences from the artist. Only five of these are known, and only one video became popular; 'Cryin' For The Carolines' featuring Milton Charles. Here's the video. 

Then in the 1940's, the 'Soundies' were created, another early version of the music video. The 'Soundies' were three minute 'musical films', which were also very performance based. They were displayed on the Panoram, which is like a video jukebox. They were often found in pubs, nightclubs, restaurants and amusement centres. Here's an example. This song fills me with me the urge to wear a pretty dress and spin around on a table. I won't though, I don't want to end up in A&E. Again.

Later, in 1958, the Soundies led to the development of the Scopitone, which featured colour 16 mm film. The Scopitone was also played on a video jukebox. 

As much as it pains me to write about The Beatles, their 'musical' film, A Hard Day's Night, which was released in 1964, was very important in terms of developing music videos. The purpose of the film was likely to help promote their music, although film historian Stephen Glynn said that the film was a 'low-budged exploitation movie to milk the latest brief musical craze for all it was worth'. This definitely makes sense, as The Beatles were very popular for a certain amount of time; it was only natural that they wanted to make more money. This still happens today whenever there is a 'musical craze', for example, a Justin Bieber film was released when he started to become popular. (Although I really wish it hadn't.)

In 1981, MTV was created. Despite the fact it is now mostly filled with awful reality TV shows, it was originally intended to showcase music videos. The first music video played on MTV was 'Video Killed The Radio Star' by The Buggles. MTV became popular with the 'alternative' audience, as it featured songs which were never played on the radio. Shortly after this growth in popularity, record stores near the areas MTV was broadcast started selling more 'alternative' music, alongside the more 'mainstream' music. Many feel that MTV was also responsible for the 'Alternative is Mainstream' movement in 1991-1997, which took place after 'Smells Like Teen Spirit' by Nirvana was played on the show. The channel then increased the time slot in which they played 'alternative' or 'underground' music, as it was becoming increasingly popular. MTV was useful in this way, as it gave various kinds of bands and artists the opportunities to showcase their music and help them gain popularity, despite the differences in genre. 

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