The Relationship between The Elements of Music and Musical Form

 

My most recent musicology lecture focused on the relationship between musical form and the elements of music. I am looking for examples of the following – feel free to suggest –

Examples of pieces with unusual bar numbers between sections (verse – chorus etc)

Examples of how changes in rhythm delineate form

Examples of verse and chorus with same chords

Examples of artist specific sounds – ie Hendrix, Metheny etc.

Examples of texture/instrumentation delineating form

Examples of how metre delineates form – ie 3 / 4 to 4 / 4.

Examples of how sounds allude toward change of style

Examples of how sounds indicate a place or a time.

Examples of textures that outline the lyrics and or title of a song

With all of these questions you need to also ask ‘how’?

About Paul Carr

Academic working at the University of Glamorgan
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19 Responses to The Relationship between The Elements of Music and Musical Form

  1. JoeB says:

    Hi Paul,
    Good to see this stuff online. What fascinates me in this sort of analysis is the difference between elements of the song (the composition itself) and the track (any specific recording of the composition). I’ve been working on some definitions of the constraints of form in song, but even in my attempts to isolate song and track I’ve ended up with some track-based stuff (e.g. vocal range) creeping in there!
    http://arpjournal.com/875/collaborative-songwriting-%E2%80%93-the-ontology-of-negotiated-creativity-in-popular-music-studio-practice/
    In practice, it seems to me that music consumers and even some musicologists don’t differentiate between the composition and the recording – which is a more apposite approach in some genres than others, I guess.
    Would love to see your slides for this!
    Joe

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  2. carza says:

    Hey Joe – good to here from you. I have posted the slides into the post now. Will look forward to reading you essay – For me, I agree with Zac, that there is an ontological difference between the song/composition, and the arrangement and track. For me, they both require a different approach for analysis – the first tends to encourage a more formalist approach (ie – the analysis of chords, melody, etc), in the 2nd we can get into more aspects of production and reception (which I am particularly interested in). Hope you are well – Paul.

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  3. Sean Kelly says:

    Examples of pieces with unusual bar numbers between sections (verse – chorus etc) – Obstacle 1 – Interpol – Verse, bridge and chorus are all counted in sets of 6

    Examples of how changes in rhythm delineate form – Funky 16 corners – The highlighters band – The changes in rhythm from a straight forward “flow” to a staccato section were all intruments stab at an Eb note leads into a 2 bar bridge back into the original groove.

    Examples of verse and chorus with same chords – Without msg I am nothing – Mclusky – Constant C# pedal note on the bass guitar, vocals and guitar change melodies but the bass never fluctuates out of its simple one note progression.

    Examples of artist specific sounds – ie Hendrix, Metheny etc. – Tom Morello – R.A.T.M. – Tom Morello’s usage of the Whammy Pedal along with the switching between the rhythm and lead setting on his guitar toggle switch to change between bass and treble frequencies creates a unique style in almost all tracks.

    Examples of texture/instrumentation delineating form – My Violent Heart – Nine Inch Nails – Light electronic percussion in the verse along with a simple bass hammering from one note to another and some ambient background noise. Chorus and Interlude include a choppy guitar line with heavier electronic percussion with the bass being replaced by a gritty distorted single note hit.

    Examples of how metre delineates form – ie 3 / 4 to 4 / 4. – Hexagram – Deftones – A bridge bar of 2/2 between the flowing verse and the strict rhythmic chorus. In the chorus and interluding section of 3/4 or 6/4 breaks up the staccato rhythms with a short flowing passage.

    Examples of how sounds allude toward change of style – TOKiMONSTA – Lucid Wakening – The general beat and flow stays the same throughout this piece however the addition of samples and synthesised sounds at certain points of the song helps create a manageable structure for the listener to differentiate between parts.

    Examples of how sounds indicate a place or a time. – New York I Love You, But You’re Bringing Me Down – LCD Soundsystem – The song revolves around the feelings toward New York and the times spent their.

    Examples of textures that outline the lyrics and or title of a song – Tonto – BATTLES – The chanting in the verse hints towards a Native American feel.

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  4. Michael Wright says:

    Example of a piece with unusual bar numbers between sections:

    Flying Lotus – Mmmhmm: Distinctive sections within the main hook – within a 4/4 signature, the structure (counting in quavers) consists of 7 bars, to 5 bars (repeated once), followed by 4 bars, to 5 bars, to 8 bars (two lots of 4).

    Example of how metre delineates form:

    Deftones – CMND/CTRL: Switches with varying structure from 7/8 to 4/4 within the verse, followed by a consisted 4/4 during the chorus.

    Animals as Leaders – CAFO: After sweeping section during the intro moves into two sections of 9/4, followed by a tapping section in 6/4.

    Examples of artist specific sounds:

    Burial – Distinctive percussion and beats – typically 4/4 with syncopated snares and kick hits.

    The Tony Danza Tap Dance Extravaganza – Guitarist Joshua Travis utilising heavy use of chromaticism throughout songs, demonstrated in “Hour of the Time”. Also incorporates tapping in the majority of his arrangements.

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  5. Polly Moore says:

    Examples of textures that outline the lyrics and or title of a song

    ARCADE FIRE- SUBURBAN WAR
    The texture (especially at around 3:27) is heavily based upon snare drums. This makes the song sound somewhat tribal, almost war like. This is then followed by harmonies of a pan-pipe, further outlining the title ‘Suburban War’
    ARCADE FIRE-THE WELL AND THE LIGHTHOUSE
    The reverberated vocals add to the illusion that the singer is in a well. When the vocals get louder, there is female vocals (When he says ‘in my head’). This leads us to believe the vocals are a voice in his head, which is also echoed, leading us to believe the singer is in a well.

    Examples of how metre delineates form – ie 3 / 4 to 4 / 4.

    THE APPROACHING CURVE- RISE AGAINST
    The song begins in 4/4, at a rather fast pace on guitars. The lyrics are almost spoken on this 4/4 section. However, towards the end of the verse, this fast pace slows down somewhat and then changes to a 6/8 tempo, as the lyrics are sung with clear melodic lines this time. The time signature is a clear indicator of form here.

    Examples of texture/instrumentation delineating form/ Examples of verse and chorus with same chords

    ALPHAVILLE-FOREVER YOUNG
    As the chords are overly different (if at all) from the verse, the chorus is built up through the gradual increase in instruments. The song begins with a simple synth like instrument, and then is gradually introduced with more instruments concluding towards the chorus. This is also complimented by the use of longer note duration, particularly in the melody line, which in the verse comprised of very detached notes. It feels as if the texture and smooth legato feel is indicative of the chorus. Furthermore, this song (along with many others) is inclined to use texture as a way of constructing for, due to the fact the chords remain the same throughout the chorus and the verse.
    Other songs which also delineate form through texture/instrumentation-:
    THE CALLING- WHEREVER YOU WILL GO
    ONE DIRECTION- THAT’S WHAT MAKES YOU BEAUTIFUL.

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  6. Anonymous says:

    James Moretti

    Examples of how changes in rhythm delineate form
    Foo Fighters – Let it die
    In the verse and build up to chorus the drums are playing what sounds like straight 8ths with an accent on the 1 3 5 and 7 giving it a more interesting sounding rhythm, the guitar also plays a picked single note melody which is slightly syncopated in places. This is very different from the chorus in which the drums provide a powerful rock beat and the guitar strums powerchords in a straight rhythm.

    Examples of how sounds allude toward change of style
    Calvin Harris – Certified (instrumental)
    It is hard to differentiate between the verse and chorus in this song as it generally follows the same chords, rhythm and melody for the whole track. But at one point during the track a heavily modulated synth line plays for 16 bars which could be described as a middle 8 repeated.

    Examples of texture/instrumentation delineating form
    Cat Empire – Fishies
    This track is very easy to break in to verse and chorus sections. The verse is always drums, bass and vocals. The pre chorus drums, bass, piano and vocals. And the chorus is drums, bass, piano and trumpet. In the second verse the trumpet features at times but only playing small licks. And in the third verse the rhythm actually delineates the form because the drum beat is much more laid back and relaxed after the solo section which features a 16 bar piano solo.

    Examples of artist specific sounds – ie Hendrix, Metheny etc.
    Police – So lonely
    The guitar sound is very specific to the police, along with the style of playing that features in the song. The white boy reggae sound which not that many bands managed to pull off. The most distinctive sound is obviously stings voice which is un naturally high for a guy.

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  7. James Moretti says:

    Examples of how changes in rhythm delineate form
    Foo fighters – Let it die
    In the verse and pre chorus the drums are playing straight 8ths, accenting the first of each pair. The guitar is playing a picked single note melody which is syncopated in parts. This differs from the chorus in which the drums playing a driving rock beat and the guitar is playing a distorted driving rhythm in quavers.

    Examples of artist specific sounds – ie Hendrix, Metheny etc.
    Police – So lonely
    The upbeat guitars and the guitar sound itself is very much the sound the police used in many songs, giving them the white boy reggae sound which not many bands managed to pull off. The high male vocals are easily distinguishable as stings voice and straight away you can tell it is him.

    Examples of texture/instrumentation delineating form
    Cat empire – Fishies
    In the verse the drums, bass and vocals feature. The pre chorus is established by the addition of piano and at some points trumpet. The chorus is drums, bass, trumpet and piano. The second and third verse are made more interesting by the addition of trumpet licks in between the vocal melody. And the rhythm also delineates from when a completely different beat is played in the third verse.

    Examples of how sounds allude toward change of style
    Calvin harris – Certified
    This song is very repetitive, with chords, harmony, bass line and rhythm playing near enough the same thing the entire way through. change is brought about by layering of different melodies and slowing bringing things in/taking them them away dynamically. But the change of sound is midway through, and is a 16 bar passage played on a heavily modulated synth which is a very different sound to the rest of the track.

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  8. Hood says:

    Lynyrd Skynyrd – Simple Man

    Verse and Chorus chords remain the same here.

    Motorhead – Iron Fist

    Distinctive over driven bass tone is synonymous with Motorhead

    Captain Beefheart – Frownland

    Odd numbers of bars here, which runs throughout Beef hearts ‘Trout Mask Replica’.

    Devin Townsend – Addicited

    The intro guitar riff dictates tempo along with the simple introduction of kit and vocals within the first ten – fifteen seconds

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  9. Hood says:

    Apologies for the video links showing, I didn’t intend for that to happen!

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  10. Katy Lewis says:

    Katy Lewis
    Examples of how sounds indicate place and a time
    Lisa Stansfield – All around the world, released 1989
    The whole song is done on synthesisers and is very reminiscent of an 80’s style and sound. Mostly sounds such as the drum’s, which play a typical dance sound with the bass drum playing on almost every beat, and the synth playing the part of the layered strings which you hear more of in the solo section.

    Examples of Verse and Chorus with the same chords
    De La Soul – Eye Know
    This song, is basically the same all the way through, playing Cmaj7 and then G with small variations on the chorus, where the A string is played. The Vocal/rap is again the same the whole way through, only with changes of the phrasing in the vocal is distinct but the vocal is still using the same notes in the melody.

    Examples of textures that outline the lyrics and or title of a song
    Enya – Orinoco Flow
    At the beginning the instruments are playing stabs as if emulating crashing water, especially the obvious parts where the crash cymbal plays. The synthesiser plays arpeggios on the harp, making it sound like it is the leif motif of water. Also there are crashing drums after the harp that bring you into the chorus, again this sounds like crashing water. I believe the reverb on the synthesiser plays a part in making you think of water moving or crashing on the rocks.

    Examples of artist specific sounds – ie Hendrix, Metheny etc.
    The Grateful Dead – Touch Of Grey
    Once you hear Jerry Garcia singing, you know distinctively that, that it is him which connects you to the Grateful Dead. They also have a distinct sound, a lot of that comes from Jerry, who uses delay and overdrive effects on his guitar. The band have a sound and style that encompasses many things such as, Blue Grass, Folk, Blues, Rock, country and Reggae and they have a certain way of stacking their amps Jerry liked his stacked in a verticle cabinet in four then eventually three speaker configurations. They were stacked like this because it gave a much wider horizontal speread to the sound, with less spill going up into the rafters.

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  11. Claire Laurenson says:

    An example of texture/instrumentation delineating form – Bon Iver, Woods. Thought of this when the Beach Boys example was played in class, as it has the same general idea of one section being repeated over and over, but with a lot of variety in the texture due to the way different harmonies are used.

    An example of how texture can relate to the lyrics and/or title – there’s an album of collective EPs called ‘The Color Spectrum’, by a band called The Dear Hunter where each EP is given a colour as a title, and consequently each track supposedly ‘sounds’ like its appropriate colour, e.g. yellow is a lot more poppy and light-hearted than black, which is a bit heavier kind of prog rock.

    Example of verse and chorus with same chords – Rebecca Black, Friday – maybe not the most skillful example of this being done.

    There’s also a song called ‘The Schmuel Song’ from a contemporary musical (so I’m not sure if it really belongs here) by Jason Robert Brown, called ‘The Last Five Years’. I just thought I’d mention it here since it has such a lot of interesting stuff going on and it applies to several of the examples that were asked for. The verse and chorus are in different time signatures and different keys, so there’s quite a contrast between the two. The musical itself focuses a lot on Jewish stereotypes (as demonstrated with the title of the song) and I think that’s kind of heard in the music as well, obviously mainly through the lyrics but also in the instrumentation.

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  12. Evija Dreimane says:

    Example of verse and chorus with same chords
    FOSTER THE PEOPLE – PUMPED UP KICKS
    Vocal line is a melody. Bass is playing the same riff all the way through (based on 4 chords). The melody compensates the simple chord progression and adds a texture to the song. In the background there is a mixture of acoustic and electronic elements/sounds.

    Example of textures that outline the lyrics and or title of a song
    JAMIE CULLUM – ALL AT SEE
    In the intro the melodic movement in piano reminds of wave movement.
    ALISON MOYET – BLOW WIND BLOW
    Vocals/backing vocals in few sections sound like the wind or wind blowing.

    Example of how meter delineates form
    THE BEATLES – GOOD MORNING GOOD MORNING
    It is a mixture of 4/4, 3/4 and 5/4 and use of simple time and compound time.

    Example of how changes in rhythm delineate form
    QUEEN – BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY
    Changes of the rhythm and other elements of music highlight three main parts in this song: a ballad ending with a guitar solo, an operatic passage, and a hard rock section.

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  13. Benjamin Franks says:

    Examples of sound associated with particular artist – Motorhead, fuzzy bass and rough vocals. Slayer – particular guitar sound

    Example of changing rhythm Kyuss – El Rodeo. There are three contrasting rhythm changes in the song

    Example of textures that outline the lyrics and or title of a song – Kraftwerk – Trans Europe Express, Sounds like a train. Portishead – Machine Gun.

    Example of metre change. Slayer Mandotory Suicide Mostly in 4/4, but when the title is sung goes into 6. Also has parts where the riffs are the same but different texture with the drums and vocals speaking

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  14. Simon Parton says:

    Examples of how metre delineates form – ie 3 / 4 to 4 / 4
    – Pat Metheny – First Circle
    Could be said to be in 22/8 or 11/4 but when I listen to it it sounds more like one bar of 12/8 followed by a bar of 10/8, creating an interesting switch in metre.
    – Bon Iver – Perth
    At the “breakdown” section of the song (2:30 –>) The metre adds a bar of 2/4 to the end of every other 3 bars.

    Examples of textures that outline the lyrics and or title of a song
    – Caravan Palace – Star Scat
    As the title suggests the majority of the piece uses a melody that is done by scatting.
    – Pat Metheny – Last Train Home
    Constant rhythm on high hats sound like a train along with the “fast” bassline.

    Examples of artist specific sounds – ie Hendrix, Metheny etc.
    – Mount Kimbie – Unlike many of the other mainstream post dubstep/minimalist electronic dance artists, their style revolves around guitars, sampling, loops and ambient soundscapes.
    – Tommy Emmanuel – Incredible virtuosic guitarist, playing in an almost un-human like manor! Amazing acoustic fingerpicking skills.

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  15. Ben Roach says:

    Example of a song where the verse and chorus share the same chords:

    * Get Up (I Feel Like Being) A Sex Machine – James Brown

    The song centres predominantly around the chord of Bb.

    * Spread Your Love – Black Rebel Motorcycle Club

    The chord progession of D F G is repeated throughout the piece.

    Examples of textures that outline the lyrics and or title of a song:

    * Black Sabbath – Iron Man

    At the beginning of the piece the crotchet beats of the kick drum could arguably be used to represent the footseteps of the protagonist of the song, which would most certainly be heavy and loud. Additionally, the heavy distortion placed on the voice that groans, “I am Iron Man”, is used to make the singer sound robotic; the string bends of the distroted guitar also sound representative of a robot.

    * Hunter’s Moon – Andy Mckee

    When listening to this song, I interpret the percussive hits of the guitar body as the patter of small feet, i.e. small animals running away from a hunter.

    Examples of how metre delineates form:

    * YYZ – Rush

    The intro of the piece runs mostly within the time signature of 5/4, but changes to 4/4 when the main groove of the song kicks in.

    * Money – Pink Floyd

    The main groove of the song takes place within the time signature 7/4, however, this switches to 4/4 during the guitar solo section, and then back again for the outro.

    Examples of how changes in rhythm delineate form:

    * Venice Queen – Red Hot Chili Peppers

    The song could quite easily be split into two seperate parts, due to a dramatic change in rhythm; the first section is characterized by an arpeggiated guitar riff, whereas in the second section the guitar plays chords.

    * No Quarter – Led Zeppelin

    The song is characterized by quiet and rather minimal instrumentation (mostly held together by a piano and synth) during the verses, and then a remarkabley louder chorus section dominated by the distorted guitar riff.

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  16. Steffan Hughes says:

    Examples of how sounds indicate a place or a time.
    I’d argue the lift off part in Space Oddity – Bowie is a great example of this. The guitar uses many guitar effects along with the ‘whammy-bar’ and other techniques to create a clear vision of a space ship blasting off.

    Examples of how metre delineates form – ie 3 / 4 to 4 / 4.
    I had a little help from the internet in dissecting what exactly is the time signature. But the bridge in ‘Here Comes the Sun’- The Beatles uses an ‘11/8 + 4/4 + 7/8’. The x/8 sections are quite swung while the 4/4 in the middle brings calm to the unstable section.

    Examples of how sounds allude toward change of style
    The trill bit in ‘A Day in the Life’ – Beatles is a great example of this. Approx. 1:40 in for over 30 seconds there is a trill that is soon overwhelmed by a string orchestra and 2:16 in a completely new section starts.

    Examples of textures that outline the lyrics and or title of a song
    Rich by Yeah Yeah Yeahs would fulfil this I believe. The song possesses a thick and rich texture which could be outlined in the song title. There are several instruments used in the mix, many MIDI, which creates many layers to this mix.

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  17. Phil Johncock says:

    Examples of how changes in rhythm delineate form,
    The Flashbulb – Autumn Insomnia Session: This song features a little melodic ostinato throughout most of the song. the only other prominent instrument is the drum kit. As the song unravels, the drummer changes the way he delivers his half-time beat (by changing the ride/hi-hat rhythm or adding grace-notes on the snare) when the obstinate stops, the drummer brings up the tempo slightly but completely changes the feel.

    Examples of verse and chorus with same chords,
    Tom Robinson Band – 2-4-6-8 Motorway: Very simple song, but very effective. It doesn’t knock you out of your dance groove!

    Examples of artist specific sounds,
    Red Hot Chilli Peppers – Suck My Kiss: Semi-spoken vocals, with speed! rhythmically ‘tight’ and expressive drumming, played synchronically with bass and guitar. Use of chord extensions and dissonance.

    Examples of how metre delineates form,
    Radiohead – Paranoid Android: Starts in a steady 4/4 until at apron 2 mins in when it alternates to 7/8 and back again every 4 bars, it is strangely unnoticeable. it’s a subtle twist.

    Examples of how sounds allude toward change of style,
    Calvin Harris – The Rain: Starts with a sax solo, but use of electronic bass, synth sounds and effects processors on the sax part allude toward a drop, it doesn’t disappoint.

    Examples of textures that outline the lyrics and or title of a song,
    Mark Knopfler – Freeway Flyer: This song is from Knopfler’s Local Hero Soundtrack, as well as the obvious use of motorbike samples, it features very lively music, and features an emphasised diminuendo and crescendo to suggest the movements of the motorbike.

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  18. Mike Despres says:

    Examples of verse and chorus with same chords.-
    I think that Jimi Hendrix – Little wing has the same chords in the verse and the chorus. I argue that the chorus is the solo section because this is where Hendrix sings the lyrics ‘Little Wing’ alone. The rhythm is different because to keep the same rhythm as the verse would draw attention away from the solo, which is never allowed!

    Examples of artist specific sounds.-
    Billy Talent. Their guitar melodies and rhythms are quite interesting and unusual because there is only one guitarist who incorporates rhythm into lead and lead also into rhythm which gives quite a thin texture. The studio recordings also do not have a second recording over them so the texture is never as thick as other rock bands. An example of this would be
    Billy Talent – This Suffering

    Examples of how sounds indicate a place or a time.-
    Pink Floyd – Money. The piece starts of with a ‘ka-ching’ sound which signifies money or banking in my opinion, which disappears around 0:36. ‘Grab that cash with both hands and make a stash’ appears to paint a picture of perhaps a robbery in a bank or a get away. Again the idea that the ‘ka-ching’ sound signifies a bank.

    Examples of how sounds allude toward change of style.
    Asking Alexandria – The Final Episode. At 3:31 there is an introduction to synthesizer strings after a fade out from the guitars. A lead synthesizer, which after 12 seconds becomes a complete dance or trance ‘interlude’ with full instrumentation including drums, synths and vocals. The piece then goes back to it’s original screaming vocals.

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  19. Rhianwen Allcock says:

    Examples of verse and chorus with same chords –

    Jason Mraz – Im yours, the same chords are repeated throughout the whole song, they are: A—E—F#m—D—-D7

    Examples of artist specific sounds –

    Cerys Matthews singing voice is very easy to recognise due to the “rasipness” in her singing and the welsh accent is also very prominent.

    Examples of how sounds allude toward change of style –

    Queen – Bohemian Rhapsody is a brilliant example as the consists of 3 sections : ballad, opera and rock. Each section is recognisable, the ballad having a slow tempo and a piano riff accompaniment, the opera section having a lot of question and answer and high vocal falsetto parts, and lastly a rock section which has the usual heavy guitar part. .

    Examples of textures that outline the lyrics and or title of a song –

    Regina Spektor – Raindrops : The rhythm played on the piano plays high pitch notes and runs, which sounds like rain drops falling.

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