The Relationship of the Elements of Music to Form

This weeks musicology session focused on the relationship of  the Elements of Music to Musical Form. I have asked students to consider the following questions –

  • Examples of pieces of music with unusual bar numbers between sections
  • Examples of how rhythm delineates form between sections
  • Examples of  pieces of music which has the same chords for both verse and chorus
  • Examples of artist specific sounds
  • Examples of texture/instrumentation delineating form
  • Examples of how metre delineates form between sections
  • Examples of how sounds allude toward change of style for an artist
  • Examples of how sounds indicate a specefic place or time.
  • Examples of how musical textures outline the lyrics or a title of a song

Any thoughts welcome!

<div style=”margin-bottom:5px”> <strong> <a href=”; title=”Session 3‘the elements of music’” target=”_blank”>Session 3‘the elements of music’</a> </strong> from <strong><a href=”; target=”_blank”>Paul Carr</a></strong> </div>

About Paul Carr

Academic working at the University of Glamorgan
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11 Responses to The Relationship of the Elements of Music to Form

  1. Milosz Niziol says:

    Right… for the question 3, there are 2 songs I can think of now: “Seven Nation Army” by White Stripes and “Black Sabbath”. I swear there are some more, though, I just can’t remember them now!


  2. Hadi Ahmed says:

    I found the article analysis on Korn to be a very interesting read, and more objective + thoroughly researched than Hanslick’s page on Prince . While some of the interpretations seemed to grasp at straws, it gives me a good idea on how to perhaps tackle the upcoming assignments, and analyse each element of the music (production, song, and reception) in-depth.

    As for the homework question, two examples that stick in mind include
    – Hey Ya by Outkast: Despite the fact that it seems to follow a standard pop format, the verse includes 3 bars of 4/4, then 1 bar of 2/4, before 2 more bars of 3/4.
    – Don’t Let Me Down by The Beatles: the song begins with a 4/4 chorus and then has a verse with one bar of 5/4 then 3 bars of 4/4. The effect is subtle, but it helps solidify the lyrical message Lennon is trying to put across.

    Also, a couple of artists/bands that I believe have a specific distinctive sound:
    Gil Scott Heron – the rhythmic melisma used at the end of most of his vocal phrases
    Jeff Beck – heavy use of his stratocaster’s whammy bar. it is used in a much more experimental, yet musical way, than a lot of guitarists who use it infrequently just as another form of vibrato – with Jeff it would be hard to imagine him playing a lead without it.
    The xx – Low key/sparse instrumentation and minimalist drum beats with whispery vocal duets.
    Squarepusher – use of the Amen Break combined with real virtuoustic bass playing; a hybrid of funk and jazz with glitchy electronic.

    These are just a few that real stick out as being very key to the artists sound/appeal.


  3. Holly Griffiths says:

    After thinking about different songs for the homework you set us:

    Examples of artist specific sounds – Suzi Quatro (She ALWAYS goes “WEEEELLLLLL” in the majority of her songs)

    Examples of verse and chorus with same chords – Starships – Nicki Minaj

    Examples of textures that outline the lyrics and or Title – Head Over Heels (the music in general sounds very clumbsy / stops and starts to implicate someone falling over)

    And Wave Upon Wave – Biffy Clyro. There’s something about this song thats very different but I can’t put my finger on it.

    During the week I will look at the Korn artical, and I’m actually looking forward to as well. Twisted Transistor made my teenage years!


  4. Mollie Ford says:

    Hey everyone!
    I’ve been having a think about the songs that have the different criteria.
    For a song with unusual bar numbers between sections, really a lot of stuff by Biffy Clyro, but Mountains is a fairly obvious one. However the new album has a lot of different examples, but I need to listen to it more before pointing out an obvious track!
    An example of an artist specific sound, for me, would definitely be the early punk era, as everyone can identify a Pistols track or a Ramones track, and in the case of the Pistols, especially with Johnny Rotten’s vocals, and I think that the Pistols are also an example of a band who use the same chords from verse to chorus, but more due to lack of talent than anything else, the main example I can think of is Anarchy in the UK.
    Also looking at the same chords throughout a song, in my opinion a lot of Hip Hop songs are like that, with the chords and also the form of the song staying the same throughout. A lot of times they use a sample that is repeated throughout, Paris by Kanye And Jay-Z is a prime example of that.
    For the last example, how musical textures outline the lyrics or a title of a song, the first song that I thought of was Let Me In by Gabrielle Aplin. It’s a quiet, emotional song of begging to be thought of by their significant other, or something along those lines, and the instrumentation echoes that, as it is just a main vocal with piano, and then as the song builds lyrically, harmonies join in to increase the importance of the words and movement of the song.
    Reading through the Korn article now, it’s really interesting so far!


  5. Mollie Ford says:

    having read the Korn article, I agree with Hadi, it’s much more comprehensive than the first article, and I found it much easier to read. The comparisons between the lyrics and emotion in the song, and the guitar and other instruments is really interesting to read, and as Hadi said, has given me a better understanding of how to maybe approach our own questions for the assignment.


  6. Dan Tucker says:

    With regards to the different songs that incorporate more unusual musical elements etc, a number of bands/acts used these methods, even if only very occasionally. Nirvana’s ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit uses the same chords throughout the song with only a small rhythmical change to create differentiation between the two sections. Futile by Porcupine Tree uses both different time signatures and non-traditional bar structures to create interest. Rage Against the Machine’s Take the Power Back highlights the distinctive sound of Tom Morello scraping the strings behind the nut, a characteristic sound that creates the association between him and the sound and Fascination Street by The Cure uses almost entire ostinato instrumental playing to mimic the journey down this street that the lyrics denote. In particular the bass line. It doesn’t deviate in tone, rhythm, notation or dynamics.
    As for the Korn article, it seems more comprehensive than Hanslick’s piece on Prince. It creates a stronger base to build more analytical opinions on and doesn’t just list various analytical points with a summary at the end. The form is more open and will comment on areas of the material where appropriate and form more distinguishable links between different elements of the songs. In particular describing the origins of lyrics, tonal qualities created by instrumentation and the influence of other genres of music. This seems like a less defined method of analysis but for me personally, it helps you understand where the music is coming from and furthers the analysis between the individual elements of the song.
    Understanding as much as possible about each piece of music we analyse seems to produce a more interesting and varied analysis of the songs. The areas may be more objective and could be interpreted differently by others, but this would create more interesting debate also.


  7. Milosz Niziol says:

    As far as the Korn article is concerned, I found it quite interesting, especially the bits about the band got its name. I’m not a fan of Korn, still, I do have a lot of respect for Jonathan Davis – his childhood must have been much worse than mine or most of the people I know, and yet he had enough stamina to pursue his aim and become a musician. His memories eventually became basis for some of his songs lyrics. I think his attitude is really admirable.

    And for the question above, I recalled 2 more examples for the question 3: “Hand of Doom” by Black Sabbath and “Child in Time” by Deep Purple (the GG-A GG-A FF-G GG-A chord progression can be heard in the intro, verse, bridge and chorus).

    Also, some artists specific sounds:
    – Dimebag Darrell (Pantera) – his use of many guitar techniques, especially pinch harmonics, is not to be confused with anyone else’s
    – Dave Mustaine (Megadeth) – although there are hundreds of thrash/speed metal bands, Dave Mustaine’s riffs are very distinctive – most of them sound aggressive and cocksure. It’s easy to tell which songs on Metallica albums Kill’em All, Ride the Lightning and Master of Puppets were written by him. Also his snarling voice is quite unique – when most of metal artists sing/shout, Mustaine sounds more like reciting in a melodic way.
    – Jon Lord (Deep Purple, Whitesnake) – as most of rock keyboardists play mainly chords plus some single notes, Jon Lord would play crazy fast solos, also using many effects; if any two bands from the 70’s, say Pink Floyd and Rainbow swapped their keyboardists, there would not be much of a difference. But Deep Purple without Jon Lord is not the same thing.
    – Rob Halford (Judas Priest) – his powerful, quite “mechanical” voice is not to be confused with anyone else’s.
    – Gibbs Brothers (Bee Gees) – not even Michael Jackson could sing that high!


  8. Rhys Moore says:

    Some artist specific sounds;

    Jack White – Using a Big Muff fuzz and a whammy pedal set to octave up effects gives him that unique sound that he uses for the majority of his lead playing across his various bands.
    Kevin Shields – His extensive use of the whammy bar whilst strumming chords and huge use of various reverbs/delays and other effects gives him a hugely distinctive sound

    Songs with only one chord progression;

    All Along The Watchtower – Bob Dylan: The interest is kept in the song by adding/removing different textures such as the Harmonica

    Creep – Radiohead: Again interest is kept with varying textures but i also feel that the tension and release brought along by the chords keep it interesting.

    One example of sounds indicating to a sound or place for me would be the grunge sound and Seattle in the late 80s/early 90s but its most probably more the massive media hype that gives that feeling rather than the music itself.

    As for the Korn article i plan on having a read through that over the weekend whilst i make a start on the presentation work.


  9. I actually enjoyed reading the analysis of the Korn song. Even though like Hadi said it seemed to be clutching at straws at some points, it didn’t read like it was stating a fact but more of an opinion than the Prince analysis.
    I found it really interesting how the different instruments were paired with different characters e.g the vocals acting as the molested child. This was a completely new way of thinking about analysing music.
    For the homework (even though I’m a week late), a song that came to mind that is sparse in instrumentation but remains interesting throughout is “Lullaby” by Lamb. The majority of the song is just the female vocal and then some strings enter later on. The quality and intimacy of the voice draws you in and makes you forget that there are no other instruments.


  10. In terms of the songs with unusual bar length – Pink Floyd – Money – its so confusing! it like flicks between what i think is 7/4 and 4/4, literally unless knowing the song, there is like no element of predictability, you really don’t know where the song is going to go next. Personally for me this is something i dont really like in a song! But each to their own :)!

    Songs with the same chords throughout the verse and chorus – No-one by alicia keys! has the same chords throughout and I need to know – Tom petty!


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