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Investigating the origins, ethics, and various forms of the music documentary

Smith, Christian Robert Luke (2020) Investigating the origins, ethics, and various forms of the music documentary. Masters thesis, York St John University.

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Abstract

Documentary is an exciting genre. Genres can transport audiences to mystical settings, with narratives populated by unique characters. The music documentary is the focus of this dissertation due to its ability to take audiences to new places within reality. There is an aura that surrounds the musical world and the musicians that frequent it. Through their music, artists are able to convey powerful stories, regarding the music itself and societal critique. It could be claimed that music is the perfect accompaniment to the documentary, with both avenues of media harnessing their strengths to create a genre with potential for expansion. The chapters in this dissertation will discuss the landmark points in the genre since its inception. Chapter 1 discusses the origins of the music documentary and its beginnings as the concert film. A key thinker in this chapter is violinist Yehudi Menuhin, whose idea it was to film himself playing a concert, kickstarting the genre. Chapter 2 focuses on direct cinema as an evolution of the films proceeding it. This mode of filmmaking allowed documentarians intimate access to their subjects, drawing attention to the artist’s private life. A key thinker in this chapter is Robert Drew whose definition of direct cinema forms the basis of analysis. Chapter 3 investigates the mock-documentary as a response to the documentary genre. Key texts influencing chapter 3 are those written by Roscoe and Hight who detail the different modes of mock-documentary and aid in discussing the films. Chapter 4 deals with experimental music documentary to demonstrate the genre’s ability to expand beyond its established conventions. A key author in this chapter is Mark Johnstone whose definition of the experimental documentary initiates discussion around the genre’s techniques. By concentrating on these 4 core points within the genre, the aims of the title will be achieved.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
Status: Published
Subjects: M Music and Books on Music > M Music
School/Department: School of Humanities
URI: http://ray.yorksj.ac.uk/id/eprint/5007

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