By L. Grossberg
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Extra info for Sound and Vision: The Music Video Reader
The commercial relation is one obvious reason for the changes brought about by the televisualization of pop music, and for the evolved metalanguage of visual plenitude and semantic cynicism which both confirms and disguises that circulation. Yet the commercial circulation of records and tapes tells us everything and nothing about the ‘use’ of popular songs by television. Everything in the world of pop music is a commodity, whether sound, image, word or act (just as this book is)—that tells us both everything and nothing about how it works.
Where radio is mainly regional or local, music television is national; it spans the map as if there were no boundaries, no regions, Sound and Vision 32 no borders, encouraging us to see music as a transnational product emanating from an abstract space. Its symbolic landscape fills a vacuum that has been left by its own suspending of music from ‘real space’, which, like real time, is a concept related to the human body. Video frames the song, encloses it in a shared symbolic (but not physical) space, and invites us to enter that space, or rather, to invite it into our own.
Even extremely basic musicological terms like rhythm and timbre are usually missing from the lexicon of music video analysis. Music itself is rarely discussed, despite the fact that the most elementary understanding of the form requires us to recognize that there is a correlation between sound and image; most obviously, in camera movement and editing techniques, but also in lighting, mise-en-scène and gesture. Disregarding these elements, postmodern analysis often looks at music television as if it were a purely visual form.