Raymond Williams’s Flow and the Study of Music in Contemporary Dutch Television
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According to Raymond Williams, “flow” is the “characteristic organisation, and therefore the characteristic experience” of television (Williams 1974, 86). Television is planned in such a way that different programmes are tied together to create a unified experience. His concept is widely used in television studies and in studies of the music in television. However, television is in constant transition, and several changes have made scholars rethink Williams’s concept of flow. William Uricchio described a shift from planned flow to viewer-determined and metadata-flow, due to changes in television technologies, whilst Will Brooker described a change in viewer activity through his concept of “overflow” (Uricchio 2004; Brooker 2001). These alternations raise the question to what extent Williams’s concept of flow is still useful in the study of television music. In this thesis, the description by Ron Rodman of music in different semiotic spaces of television, and Rick Altman’s functions of television music are discussed in relation to revisions of flow (Rodman 2010; Altman 1986). An analysis of an evening of Dutch commercial broadcaster RTL4 shows that music is mainly used to maintain the original experience of planned flow: to entertain and create a sense of continuity for the viewer and to prevent them from making the decision to switch the channel.