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The Form of Popular Music

By Edited Dec 5, 2013 0 0

Popular music is usually written in a manner consistent specific. The different sections of a song consisting of verse, chorus, and sometimes, though not always, the bridge. The verse is the opening lyric of the song begins. The melody of the verse often lay the groundwork
work for what is to come.

Popular Music


A FORM

The simplest song form contains only verses and is usually called "A form." That's because the letter "A" is used to identify a section of the song (in this case, the only section - the verse). The verses use a single melody that is repeated throughout the song. There is no chorus at all. The obvious problem with A-form songs is that they tend to get boring. Their primary advantage as a form is that, because there is only one repeating melody, it is generally simple to re- member the tune to the song. Consequently, one of the places that you will find the A form is in the children's songs, such as lullabies, older traditional songs like "Frere Jacques" or in folk songs.

Occasionally, an A-form song makes its way onto the pop music charts. The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band's first hit record, "Buy for Me the Rain," is an example of an A-form song. It had three verses, and the first verse is repeated at the end of the song. This song is seldom heard today, except when the Dirt Band is in a nostalgic mood! Another example of an A-form song that was a big hit is Gordon Lightfoot's "

The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald." The subject of this song was a shipwreck on the Great Lakes, much as a song written in the sixteenth century might have concerned a great battle or the reign of a noble king. Therefore, the choice of an A form was quite appropriate to Lightfoot's vision of the story.

The form was cleverly disguised by the musical arrangement and production techniques used on the record. It started out very simply, but, as the rather long song developed, different musical instruments were brought in at various parts of the songs. It may well be that Lightfoot had the orchestration of the recording mapped out in his head while he was writing the song. But, whether or not this was true, the fact is that the song was another rare example of an A-form song becoming a big hit record.

I doubt that any other recording artist would have chosen this song as a "commercial" release if Lightfoot hadn't recorded it himself. Many blues songs are written in an A form, with no chorus.

Often, these songs do not tell a specific story, but are simply a group of poems that reflect the attitudes of the singer about a situation or emotion. Sometimes the verses are traditional and are used over and over again in different songs produced by different singers. Since the state of mind is emphasized more than the story (which have a beginning, middle and end), the form A can be very effective in a traditional blues song.
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