From the category archives:

Simple music analysis

I’ve had more thoughts on “You’ve got to Hide your love away” since I posted a video of their performance in the movie HELP! a few days ago. This is yet another one of Lennon’s famous songs about love. He wrote about love throughout his entire career. The song appears to me to be about […]


Every once in a while, a song comes into your life and it colors your entire season, say summer. And whenever you hear this song, you go back to that place. Allow me to highly recommend a song that will take you over and be your soundtrack for a few weeks, if not months: “Dance […]

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In 1966, rock and roll invaded classical music’s personal space by including orchestras, string quartets, oboes, and harpsichords in their arrangements “Eleanor Rigby,” Joshua Rifkin’s “Baroque Beatles” as well as his arrangements for Judy Collins were all co-existing at this time. There was also a short-lived group called The Left Banke who managed to put […]


BACKGROUND ABOUT CHORDS FOR NON-MUSICIANS When musicians describe music, very often they will refer to the “chords” that are sounding in or behind the musical texture. There are seven notes in a major scale, each one can have a 3-note chord on it, and our traditional music theory teachers teach us to call those entities […]


“O Superman” was Laurie Anderson’s first big HIT: it made it to number 2 in the UK but didn’t do as well in America. Her music is marvelously in-the-cracks reminding me of Steve Reich, Lou Reed (her husband), David Byrne, and Joni Mitchell, but it would be an insult to say that she is only […]


There are some marvelous harmonic details in Leonard Cohen’s “Suzanne.” It was Mark Carlson who pointed out to me that there is no dominant chord in the song. I was incredulous. He was right. Look at the chart of the chord progression for the song. I laid out the harmonic analysis so that the line […]


Search and you’ll find…

January 25, 2006

Or something like that. I discovered a gold mine of wonderful literature about the materials of popular music through There is a lot of material from a musicological point of view, but I’m interested in finding the nitty gritty about notes, chords, form and such. Author and music theorist Elizabeth Marvin suggested I read […]


I am thrilled to have re-discovered Alan W. Pollack’s brilliant analyses of songs by the Beatles as examples of ways to discuss form, structure, harmony, and melody in popular songs. I will spend some time poring over these analytic nuggets and report on them. If you are curious, look at them and send me your […]


I keep asking myself: is it true? It seems there isn’t any music “theory” about popular music. My colleague David Lefkowitz wanted to write about Cole Porter in his upcoming theory text book, but the cost of reprinting the entire score was prohibitive. Music majors are made to study analytic methods of approved composers like […]


“A hook is a musical idea, a passage or phrase, that is believed to be catchy and helps the song stand out; it is “meant to catch the ear of the listener” (Covach 2005, p.71). This term generally applies to popular music, especially pop music.” (Wikipedia) There is a difference between a hook and a […]