An Analysis Of Semiotic Signs In “Asking Alexandria – The Black” Music Video

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Music video is a short film that integrates a song with imagery, and is produced for promotional or artistic purposes. Music videos use a wide range of styles and contemporary video-making techniques, including animation, live action, documentary, and non-narrative approaches such as abstract film. Some music videos combine different styles with the music, such as animation and live action. Combining these styles and techniques has become more popular because of the variety for the audience. Many music videos interpret images and scenes from the song’s lyrics, while others take a more thematic approach. Other music videos may not have any concept, being merely a filmed version of the song’s live performance.

Metal music nowadays grows so fast in this world, metal music became one of teenagers’ favourite music. But metal music always marked as a music that related to Satanism or Antichrist activities. Many metal musicians that make controversy through their music videos, in 2004 a Black Metal band named Gorgoroth make a controversy through their live concert video footage. The concert featured sheep heads on stakes, ‘crucified’ nude models, Satanic symbols and eighty litres of sheep blood. The band came under fire for violating Polish anti-blasphemy laws as well as Polish animal rights laws. A police investigation took place with allegations of religious offence (which is prosecutable under Polish law) and cruelty to animals. Black Metal is the most controversial sub-genre in Metal, but for normal people who are not a metal music fans, all metal musicians are just the same, no matter it is Death Metal, Black Metal, Metalcore, etc. everything looks same for them.

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Metal musicians often put semiotics signs in their music videos in order to deliver messages, they use semiotics signs to deliver it. Even in Indonesia, the usage of semiotics signs in music video also used. Many Indonesian bands use it such as: Revenge the Fate, Burgerkill, Crows as Divine, etc. that’s why we need to analyse video clip of metal, so it would not be misinterpreted among society.

This research focused on the study in The Black music video and song lyrics by Asking Alexandria, this music video were taken from “The Black” album. The Black is the fourth studio album by English rock band Asking Alexandria. It was released on 25 March 2016, and is their first and only album to feature second lead vocalist Denis Stoff, who replaced original lead vocalist Danny Worsnop, this album consist of 12 songs with total length 47.40 minutes. Asking Alexandria is a Metalcore band from York, North Yorkshire, England. Asking Alexandria initially formed in 2006 by Ben Bruce, the band officially established as a six-piece in 2008 with the founding line-up consisting of Bruce, Worsnop, Cassells, Liddell, Joe Lancaster and Ryan Binns. Asking Alexandria has released 5 studio albums under a label, Sumerian Records.

In The Black music video, there are so many semiotics put to express the feelings of the songwriter, the lyrics of this song were so emotional, the songwriter express his sadness and his desperation in this song.

From those reason the researcher decided to create a research entitled An analysis of semiotic signs in “Asking Alexandria – The Black” music video. The researcher hopes that the result of this research can help people in understanding semiotic signs from this music video, so this music video would not be misinterpreted and marked as satanic music.

Literature Review

The Definition of Semiotic

Semiotics is the study of meaning-making, the study of sign process (semiosis) and meaningful communication. It is not to be confused with the Saussurean tradition called semiology which is a subset of semiotics. This includes the study of signs and sign processes, indication, designation, likeness, analogy, allegory, metonymy, metaphor, symbolism, signification, and communication.

According to Saussure, Semiotics is our perception and view of reality, constructed by words and other signs used in the social context. That is, the sign shapes human perception, more than just reflecting on the existing reality (Sobur, 2006: 87).

Definition of Sign in Semiotics

In semiotics, a sign is anything that communicates a meaning that is not the sign itself to the interpreter of the sign. The meaning can be intentional such as a word uttered with a specific meaning, or unintentional, such as a symptom being a sign of a particular medical condition. Signs can communicate through any of the senses, visual, auditory, tactile, olfactory, or taste.

According to Saussure (1857–1913), a sign is composed of the signifier (signifiant), and the signified (signifié). These cannot be conceptualized as separate entities but rather as a mapping from significant differences in sound to potential (correct) differential denotation.

A sign is something physical (any sound image) can be seen and heard which usually refers to an object or aspect of the reality to be communicated. The object is known as Referent. In a communication someone uses a sign to send a meaning about the object and the other person interprets the sign. Requirement communicators and communicants must have the same language or knowledge of the sign system (Kriyantono, 2010: 271).

A sign consists of a signifier which is a real physical representation of the sign when we receive it and a signified that is a mental concept that refers to the actual physical picture of the sign. The mental concept is widely recognized by members of a culture that has the same language (Fiske, 2012: 73).

Pierce argues that the basic of semiotics is symbols. Besides language and communication systems, the symbols also include the things in human environment that enable human to build relationships with the environment (Sobur, 2004: 12)

Semiotics of music videos

Semiotics in popular music, or mesomusica, is different from semiotics in other musical forms, because pop music denotes a cultural object. (Matusitz, 2004). Popular music has many signs in itself because it has many components and uses, but it also appeals to the emotions of a generation. Music is the “logical expression” of feelings, a “symbolic form”. Music videos are an example of syntagm, which interacting signifiers form a meaningful whole. Music videos are also considered multimodal genres because one semiotic system is joined syntagmatically to another semiotic system, which results in a signified indexical meaning. The process of music correlated with visuals can be described in terms of two basic mechanisms: temporal synchronicity and cross-modal homology. Incorporating the two modalities, sound and image, we can interpret it as a unified syntagm. Music videos are known to be visually secondary signified in combination with the semantic content of the lyrics. Semiotics in music videos is different from a pragmatic analysis because we can uphold that semiotics searches for meaning by considering sign production and progress, while pragmatics searches for meaning by considering the intentions of semantics and the context it has evolved in.

Many semiotic analysts have examined music videos to decode messages that are being sent to viewers. Invisible editing, a semiotic term, that film editors use to almost decode the message for the audience using narrative actions. Daniel Chandler’s example from famous film editor, Ralph Rosenblum, ‘a man awakens suddenly in the middle of the night, bolts up in bed, stares ahead intensely, and twitches his nose. Then the film directs towards a room where two people are desperately fighting a billowing blaze’ (Chandler, pp. 166, 2007).

Film Semiotics

According to Van Zoest, Film is a very relevant field of study for structural analysis or semiotics. Movies are built with sheer marks. In the film used the signs – the signs of iconic, i.e. signs that describe something. The dynamic image in the movie is an iconic for the reality it denotes (Sobur, 2009: 128).

According to Sardar & Loon, Film and Television have their own language with different syntax and grammar. Films can basically involve forms of visual and linguistic symbols to encode the message being delivered. Movies are generally built with many marks. The signs include various signaling systems that work together well in an effort to achieve the expected effect. The most important in the picture and sound: the spoken word (coupled with other sounds simultaneously accompanying the pictures) and the music of the film (Sobur, 2009: 128).


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