The Long Song: Extended Form in Popular Music

Venue: Room 135, Music Building
Guest Lecture in Music Theory

Music Theory Lecture

Dr. John Covach

University of Rochester
Director of the University of Rochester Institute for Popular Music
Professor of Music Theory, Eastman School of Music

Most discussions of form in popular music take as their focus songs lasting five minutes or less. When the length of such songs remains within the 2-5 minute range, the usual designs (AABA, ABAC, simple verse, simple verse-chorus, contrasting verse-chorus, and compound forms) are effective. But when songs become extended, ranging in some cases up to 20 minutes in length or more, new approaches to the analysis of form are required. This talk will explore some of the ways that musicians have structured such “long songs,” drawing on examples from popular music across the twentieth century, from Irving Berlin and Cole Porter to Aretha Franklin and Peter Gabriel. 

Free and open to the public

See University of Rochester article more information about John Covach.

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