This weeks musicology lecture examined ways in which it is possible to analyse popular music melody – specifically from a horizontal perspective. I think this is an area that is under represented in popular music analysis – so here is some terminology you may find useful.
Some of the terminology is well know, although much of it are considerations of my own that I have developed over the years. To begin with – I have found the following techniques/descriptors to be useful for analysing melody.
- Motif: The smallest self contained unit that has recognisable shape, or contour.
- Question Phrase: A musical statement – Often 2 or 4 bars long – that usually requires completion
- Answer Phrase: The 2nd phrase of the ‘Sentence’. Although not a ‘rule’, often sounds like it is resolving. Sometimes called the ‘answer’.
- Sentence: This is the Answer Phrase and Question Phrase combined
- Sections: This is when the above is grouped together to form what most of us call ‘Verses’ and ‘Choruses’
Once we are familier with what the above sound like – the next thing to consider is how repetition occurs. So for example
- How does the ‘Answer Phrase 1’ compare to the ‘Question Phrase 1’?
- How does ‘Answer Phase 2’ relate to ‘Question Phase 2’?
- How does Question Phrase 1 compare to Question Phrase 2?
- How does ‘Sentence 1’ compare to ‘Sentence 2′?
- How Does Section 1 compare to Section 2, etc.
Techniques could include
¨Where the melody is different but the rhythm is the same. This can be between question – answer phrases or sentences. For Example
¨‘Good Stuff: Donald Fagen
¨Black Chandelier: Buffy Clyro
¨Whitney Houston ‘Run to You’ (Chorus) 1:00
Note: Sometimes these repetitions are not exact – if not – you can label ‘near’ before the name. IE ‘Near Rhythmic Sequence’.
¨The rhythm and melody between question -answer phrases or sentences are identical to earlier material, but up or down a predetermined pitch.
¨This occurs at the level of the Sentence in –
¨Mozart: Theme from 40th Symphony!
¨Van Halen: ‘You Really Got Me’
¨Antonio Carlos Jobim ‘Girl From Ipanema’ (Chorus) 0:38
Elbow ‘One Day Like This’
¨When the melody and rhythm of an answer phrase is identical to the ‘question’, or between sentences.
¨For example the first two phrases of most Blues songs
¨‘My Man Called Me’ Big Mamma Thornton
¨‘Off The Wall’ Lee Ranaldo
¨When the answering phrase is identical to the question, but commences on a different beat.
¨This is a more advanced technique and is not particularly common in popular music
¨See examples below –
¨Cannonball Adderley ‘Straight No Chaser’ and ‘Fascinating Rhythm’
¨When the melody is identical but the harmony changes.
¨For example: The First 8 bars of most blues songs –
¨‘Hound Dog’ Big Mamma Thornton
¨Antonio Carlos Jobim: ‘One Note Samba’
¨Antonia Carlos Jobim: ‘Girl From Ipanema’ (Verse)
¨Thin Lizzy ‘Whisky in the Jar’
¨Where the answering phrase consists of entirely new material
¨The Beatles: ‘Hey Jude’
¨Bobby Vinton: ‘Blue Velvet’
¨Suzanne Vega ‘Luka’
¨Take That ‘A Million Love Songs’
¨No Audio – but also –
¨Joe Cocker ‘With a Little Help From My Friends’
¨Patsy Cline ‘Crazy’
¨Feist ‘The Water’
¨Whitney Houston ‘Run to You’ (Verse)
¨Sting ‘Dead Man’s Boots’
I am interested in other examples – please post here as opposed to Facebook etc