On August 1, 1981--the day that a cable TV channel playing music videos 24/7 made its debut--the inaugural video aired on MTV by the band The Buggles announced to viewers, "Video Killed the Radio Star." Since the launch of MTV, music videos have shaped popular culture, and their production, narrative, multimodal, and editing aesthetics have influenced other musical screen media, including film, commercials, television title sequences and end credits, film trailers, live concert films, video games, YouTube fan remixes and more. The development of digital new media technologies made the production technologies once only accessible to commercial record labels and production companies available to fans and consumers on their computers, cameras, and mobile media devices. This course explores the relationships between music and moving images (e.g. television, film, computer, video games, mobile media, digital media), and how the music video format has influenced modes of music making, performance, reception, and circulation. Music videos have shaped the aesthetic style of a wide range of screen media genres, serving as a form of branding popular music and artists, introducing experimental and avant-garde techniques to a mass audience, and facilitating participatory fan musicking. This course thinks deeply about several key issues concerning music and moving images (e.g. virtuality, identity politics, cross-cultural exchange, participatory musicking, fandom, virtuosity, adaptation, branding, liveness, nostalgia), examining how screen media with their visual and auditory content can be listened to and read as cultural texts.
Case studies in this seminar range from the history, genre expectations, and experimentalism of music videos to ethnographic filmmaking, from the visual album (Beyoncé's LEMONADE) to fan produced video game music machinima, from the sound design of documentary film to the movie musical, from Hollywood compilation soundtracks to the pace, camera angles, and dance sequences of post-MTV Bollywood film, from 8-bit video game sound to the music pedagogy of children's television programs (Sesame Street's "Geometry of Circles" scored by Philip Glass), and from the use of pre-existing music in television commercials (United Airlines' use of George Gershwin's RHAPSODY IN BLUE, Michael Jackson's "Billie Jean/New Generation" for Pepsi), video games (ETERNAL SONATA, TETRIS), and mobile media apps (the Clapping Music app, the John Cage Prepared Piano app) to expressions of Indigenous musical modernity (Tanya Tagaq's multimedia collaboration NANOOK, the Anishinaabe singing mobile game app HONOUR WATER, the soundscapes of the Iñupiat Alaskan Native video game NEVER ALONE).