Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Sonata allegro form in pop music

This post might take a while to load, since I'll be using a bunch of examples!

As you'll recall from my most-viewed post, sonata allegro form is a common form used in classical music. However, as I've been discovering over the past few months, it's not exclusive to classical music at all.

As you'll remember, sonata form basically looks like this:

Exposition - Exposition - Development - Recapitulation


Or, using letters:

(A B C) - (A B C) - (OMG!!) - (A B C ish)


Now, for comparison, here's generally what popular music form looks like:

(verse-chorus) - (verse-chorus) - (solo section) - (chorus-coda)


Now, let's demonstrate with some songs, shall we? Here are the four I'll be using:

  1. Toxicity, by System of a Down

  2. Poker Face, by Lady Gaga

  3. Sing Talk, the epic parody of Ke$ha's "Tik Tok"

  4. Bring Me To Life, by Evanescence



Toxicity, by System of a Down:



0:00 -- Introduction

Exposition:
0:51 -- Verse
1:15 -- Chorus

Exposition:
1:53 -- Verse
2:17 -- Chorus

Development:
2:40 -- Something totally different from the verse and chorus

Recapitulation:
3:04 -- Chorus
3:28 -- Coda, using material from the development (how clever of them!)

Poker Face, by Lady Gaga:



0:13 -- Introduction

Exposition:
0:37 -- Verse
1:09 -- Chorus

Exposition:
1:33 -- Verse
2:06 -- Chorus

Development:
2:30 -- Something totally different from the verse and chorus

Recapitulation:
2:54 -- Chorus
3:26 -- Coda, which is kinda the same thing she used as a bridge between the verse and chorus

Sing Talk, courtesy of College Humor:



(No Introduction)

Exposition:
0:09 -- Verse
0:41 -- Chorus

Exposition:
0:57 -- Verse
1:30 -- Chorus

Development:
1:46 -- Something totally different from the verse and chorus.

Recapitulation:
2:05 -- Chorus

Bring Me To Life, by Evanescence:



0:07 -- Introduction

Exposition:
0:18 -- Verse
1:04 -- Chorus

Exposition:
1:27 -- Verse
1:50 -- Chorus

Development:
2:11 -- Something totally different from the verse and chorus

Recapitulation:
3:10 -- Chorus
3:47 -- Coda, using the piano from the introduction

Also, now that I'm all done, I'd like to mention that I hate Vevo on Youtube so much.

1 comment:

  1. No offense, but your examples on this post are not sonata-allegro.

    First, the "exposition(s)" contain only one melody (ie. theme), if the verses contained different melodies I believe you might be on to something... but they are identical.

    Second, the "development" section is just a bridge. Bridges often contain contrasting material. A true development section should develop the theme(s) of the song.

    However, with all that being stated, I do want to thank you for piquing my interest. I'm looking for modern day examples of the sonata-allegro and so far have not found what I'm looking for. Also, I've been looking primarily at movie themes, and you have got me thinking in other areas, so thank you.

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