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MUSC2150 Quiz: written quiz 1

Course Code
MUSC 2150
Shannon Carter
Study Guide

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Unit 1 studying popular music basic tools
This unit introduces the breadth and common pitfalls of the scholarly study of popular music; it will also begin to familiarize you with some
common terms used in the discussion of music. Try to use these terms whenever you discuss music outside of this course to help cement their
proper contexts and meanings in your mind.
Approaches to Popular Music Studies
Reading: Covach (your textbook) 3-8
This section in the textbook outlines faults commonly found in pop-music writing, including the tendency of histories to track a “popularity arc.” It
also addresses the issue of historical context in terms of the study of popular music. Covach outlines four broad areas of inquiry that he will use
to locate various styles of music in their time periods. His list is by no means exhaustive (or the book would be much bigger!), however, it is an
excellent start.
The Importance of Historical Context
All art, including music, reflects the time in which it was created, so we need to understand a song’s historical context in order to fully
understand the song. A song’s meaning can also change over time, as the historical context surrounding it changes. Listen to Rock Around
the Clock by Bill Haley and His Comets. In the extremely conservative 1950s, the sexually-suggestive lyrics were considered rather
scandalous. Today, while still understood as a sexual metaphor, the song is considered by most as a bit of harmless nostalgia and not remotely
racy. Why? In short, because the web of elements that make up a song’s historical context, as outlined by Covach, has shifted its alignment
over the decades since the song’s release.
Learning Activity 1.1
1. Rocket ‘88’
oSimple verse form. A simple verse form consists of a series of verses, all of which use the sa
me underlying music. Asimple verse form contains no chorus or bridge sections, though the v
erses may contain a refrain.
oInstrumental verse. A verse section that repeats the music of the verse, without the singing a
nd with an instrumentsoloing, is an instrumental verse. Guitar, saxophone, and keyboard solos
are common, though any instrument can soloin an instrumental verse.
oBar /measure. Musicians often count out a song, saying “1, 2, 3, 4.” This is a bar of music, an
d the numbers represent beats.These bars usually have the same number of beats in them thro
ughout a song (though not always).
oRhythm. In the broadest sense, the word “rhythm” refers to the organized patterning of the te
mporal dimension inmusic. More specifically, we can refer to a rhythmic figure in the music,
which is usually a short segment with a clearlydefined profile of some kind. Meter and meter
classification are aspects of the broader aspect of rhythmic organization.
oMeter classification. A meter classification classifies how we feel the organization of the rhy
thm for a particular songor passage. In this book, meters are classified as either simple or com
pound, and then as either duple, triple, orquadruple. A meter classification can be notated usin
g a specific meter, and though there are several meters than canbe used with each classificatio
n, there are six meters that are most common.

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oMeter. A meter establishes how we will notate music within a certain meter classification. Ea
ch of the meterclassifications discussed in the Introduction can be represented with several m
eters, but some meters are far morecommon than others, especially in rock music. Of the simp
le meters, 2/4, 3/4, and 4/4 are most common, and amongthe compound meters, 6/8, 9/8, and
12/8 are most common.
oDuple (meter). When there are two beats in a bar (or measure) of music, the meter is classifie
d as duple. Duple meteris commonly notated as 2/4 if it is a simple feel, or 6/8 if it is a compo
und feel.
oQuadruple (meter). When there are four beats in a bar (or measure) of music, the meter is cl
assified as quadruple.Quadruple meter is commonly notated as 4/4 if it is a simple feel, or 12/
8 if it is a compound feel.
oShuffle. A shuffle rhythm is often a way of playing 4/4 that transforms it into something clos
er to 12/8. The fourbeats in a measure of 4/4 are each divided into two equal parts, making for
a scheme that goes 1 & 2 & 3 & 4 &. In12/8, the same measure would divide the beats into th
ree equal parts, resulting in 1 & ah 2 & ah 3 & ah 4 & ah. Ashuffle uses the second of these sc
hemes, but the & is often silent, so we get 1 (&) ah 2 (&) ah 3 (&) ah 4 (&) ah. Thissounds so
mewhat like the first scheme (4/4), since it has two elements per beat, but unlike the first sche
me, theelements do not evenly divide the beat.
2. This song is in a quadruple meter; each bar is divided into four beats. You can count the beats ONE-two-Three-four in time
with the bass on the recording.
3. The song is played with a shuffle rhythm; the beats are divided into two, but the two parts are unequal: ONE-(and)-uh-two-(and)-
uh-Three-(and)-uh-four-(and)-uh. This type of rhythm is also called “swing rhythm.” Again, you can count this along with the
saxophones from 00:50. If the rhythm were “straight,” the sub-division of the beat would be into two equal parts and would be
counted ONE-and-two-and-Three-and-four-and.
Learning Activity 1.2
Now let’s listen to a couple of more complex meters.
1. Triple (meter). When there are three beats in a bar (or measure) of music, the meter is classified as tri
ple. Triplemeter is commonly notated as 3/4 if it is a simple feel, or 9/8 if it is a compound feel.
2. Compound (meter) . When we subdivide the basic beat into three equal parts, this creates a compoun
d feel, which isnotated using compound meters such as 6/8, 9/8, or most commonly, 12/8.
3. For triple meter, listen to Tennessee Waltz by Patti Page.
a. ONE-two-three, ONE-two-three. The bass is heard on beat one and a strummed guitar is heard on beats two and
three. The result is a “BOOM-chuk-chuk” sound common to all waltzes. The effect is lilting and dance-like.
4. For a compound meter, listen to What a Wonderful World by Louis Armstrong.
a. In compound meters, the bar or measure is divided up into two, three or four beats, just like simple meters, however, each
beat is then sub-divided into three equal parts (in simple meters, the sub-division is always into two parts). Count the sub-
division of the beat in a fast ONE-and-uh-two-and-uh. The “and” is NOT silent.
b. The primary beat can be heard most clearly between the bass and a rim-shot on the drum (the drummer hits the rim
rather than the skin of the drum, it sounds a bit like “clack”). The primary beat in this case is duple. Count along with the
bass and drum in a slow ONE-two.
c. The effect of compound meters, because of the triple sub-division of the main beat, is also rather lilting and dance-like.
Learning Activity 1.3
“Timbre” (pronounced TAM-burr) is a musical term that refers to the quality or “colour” of a sound. For instance: consider the difference in the
sound of a flute versus a trumpet. You can distinguish one from the other easily because their tone qualities or timbres are different. We

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generally use rather poetic and subjective adjectives to describe timbre: the timbre of a flute is bright, brittle, or thin, while a trumpet’s timbre is
bold, brassy, or round.
In popular music, timbre is most often considered in terms of the vocals or the guitar sounds. The timbres generally change according to genre
and can help you identify one from the other. The timbres used in different genres also carry meaning within the genre.
1. For a thin, nasal vocal timbre, listen to Cross Road Blues by Robert Johnson.
2. For a smooth, crooning vocal timbre, listen to White Christmas by Bing Crosby.
3. For a harsh, heavy, clashing guitar timbre, listen to God Save the Queen by the Sex Pistols
4. For a light, thin, guitar timbre, listen to Love Me Tender by Elvis Presley
Learning Activity 1.4
oTwelvebar blues. The twelvebar blues is a structure that forms the musical basis for many ve
rses, choruses, andeven bridges in rock music. It can be divided into three 4bar phrases. The l
yrics to the first phrase are frequentlyrepeated in the second phrase, with new lyrics appearing
in the third phrase, creating a kind of question/questionrepeated/answer model as the words u
nfold. The twelvebar blues also employs a specific arrangement of chords. In the history of ro
ck, the twelvebar blues is strongly associatedwith 1950s rock and rhythm & blues. Even when
this structure arises in later rock, the reference to the 1950s is oftenclear. E.g. Rocket ‘88’
oPhrase. A phrase is a short passage of music; often in rock music, phrases are four measures in length (sometimes
eight measures). A phrase is akin to a sentence in spoken language and divides music into units that make it easier to
comprehend. Vocal phrases often correspond to obvious points of division and articulation in the lyrics being sung
oDoowop progression. The doowop progression is a structure that can form the basis for verse
, chorus, and bridgesections in rock music. It is a repeating pattern of four chords: I-iv-IV-V. I
n the key of C major, these chords would beC major–A minor–F major–G major. As per its na
me, the pattern was common in youthoriented vocal harmonymusic during the 1950s, but was
also employed widely after this period in a variety of contexts. E.g. Sh-Boom
Learning Activity 1.5
oAABA form. A song form that uses two verses (A A), a bridge (B), and a return to the verse (
A) as its basicorganizational pattern. Once the complete AABA pattern is presented, a song m
ay repeat all of the pattern (fullreprise) or only part of it (partial reprise). AABA form is stron
gly associated with the Tin Pan Alley popular song style,though it also occurs frequently in ro
ck music.
Full reprise. In an AABA form, playing once through the AABA structure often does not cre
ate a song that is longenough. When the entire AABA structure is repeated, this is called a “fu
ll reprise.” Some songs may use more than onerepeat of the entire AABA structure.
oPartial reprise. In an AABA form, playing once through the AABA structure often does not
create a song that is longenough. When only a portion of AABA structure is repeated, this is c
alled a “partial reprise.” Most partial reprisesrepeat the BA or the ABA sections of the AABA
oChorus. The chorus is usually the most important or easily remembered section of a song, co
ntaining the title and thecatchiest musical material. Not all songs have a chorus, but when one
is present, it is usually the focus of the song.
oSimple Verse Form: Rocket ‘88’, Heartbreak Hotel
oAABA Form: Great Balls of Fire
oSimple Verse-Chorus Form: Can the Circle Be Unbroken
oContrasting Verse-Chorus Form: That'll Be the Day
Learning Activity 1.6
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