You are here

Phrase Structure, Hypermeter, and Closure in Popular Music

Title: Phrase Structure, Hypermeter, and Closure in Popular Music.
Name(s): Robins, Jeremy M. (Jeremy Michael), author
Clendinning, Jane Piper, professor directing dissertation
Holzman, Bruce, university representative
Buchler, Michael Howard, 1966-, committee member
Richards, Mark C., committee member
Florida State University, degree granting institution
College of Music, degree granting college
Type of Resource: text
Genre: Text
Doctoral Thesis
Issuance: monographic
Date Issued: 2017
Publisher: Florida State University
Place of Publication: Tallahassee, Florida
Physical Form: computer
online resource
Extent: 1 online resource (202 pages)
Language(s): English
Abstract/Description: Phrases in common-practice music are traditionally defined by harmonic processes, particularly goal-directed progressions to tonic. In popular music, however, harmonic motion toward a tonic is not always present, making traditional approaches to phrase segmentation problematic. The goal of this dissertation is to provide a systematic methodology for addressing phrase segmentation and closure in popular music, particularly in the absence of goal-directed harmonic motion. Additionally, I aim for simplicity of application and consistency of results. Because contemporary popular music is heavily focused on vocal melodies and lyrics, it is important to use a methodology that privileges melodic activity in classifying formal structures. My methodology for phrase segmentation is based on patterns of melodic repetition, particularly in reference to recurring quadruple hypermeter. With a consistent method for segmenting phrases, cadences can be identified and classified, allowing for comparison of closure in popular songs. This research aims to engage the musical syntax of popular music on its own terms while drawing on the rich resource of common-practice analytical methodologies. There are many theoretical concepts and terms that carry into popular practice such as periods, sentences, and cadences; however, the transfer is not always exact, resulting in some concepts that are loosened or expanded, such as allowing subdominant (IV) and subtonic (bVII) harmonies to support half cadences. New categories of phrase structure and cadences are also necessary to accurately describe popular music, specifically rotated phrases, rotated subphrases, and submediant cadences, none of which have established analogues in common-practice scholarship. In rotated phrases and subphrases, lyrical content is displaced from melodic repetition, creating formal ambiguity. Submediant cadences occur as part of the submediant double-tonic complex (DTC), where tonal fluidity is created between relative major and minor keys. Songs featuring the submediant DTC fluctuate between the major and minor rotations of a single diatonic collection, allowing cadences that articulate the major and minor modes simultaneously. This dissertation represents the first step of a longer process of studying, classifying, and presenting the musical syntax of popular music. The methodology has the potential to address the wide spectrum of popular music, and I trust that it will be a useful tool for scholars working in the field of popular music scholarship.
Identifier: FSU_2017SP_Robins_fsu_0071E_13817 (IID)
Submitted Note: A Dissertation submitted to the College of Music in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
Degree Awarded: Spring Semester 2017.
Date of Defense: April 4, 2017.
Keywords: Cadence, Form, Hypermeter, Music, Phrase, Popular
Bibliography Note: Includes bibliographical references.
Advisory Committee: Jane Piper Clendinning, Professor Directing Dissertation; Bruce Holzman, University Representative; Michael Buchler, Committee Member; Mark Richards, Committee Member.
Subject(s): Music
Persistent Link to This Record:
Owner Institution: FSU

Choose the citation style.
Robins, J. M. (J. M. ). (2017). Phrase Structure, Hypermeter, and Closure in Popular Music. Retrieved from