• Formal Functions and Rotations in Top-40 EDM

    Author(s):
    Brad Osborn (see profile)
    Date:
    2023
    Group(s):
    Society for Music Theory (SMT), Society for Music Theory – Popular Music Interest Group (SMT PMIG)
    Subject(s):
    Music theory, Popular music, Musical form, Electronic dance music
    Item Type:
    Article
    Permanent URL:
    https://doi.org/10.17613/ctqh-8f93
    Abstract:
    Publications on form in popular music have largely assumed the formal sections germane to pop-rock to be the formal designs of “popular music.” But the most popular music of our time—music charting on the Billboard Top-40—has absorbed the influence of electronic dance music (EDM) in a way that has fundamentally changed its formal structure. This results in “Top-40 EDM,” a genre defined by collaborations between seasoned EDM producers and A-list pop singers. This article begins by defining EDM’s three core formal functions (verse, riser, and drop), and compares them to more familiar functions heard in pop-rock music (verse, prechorus, chorus, and postchorus). Part two draws on de Clercq’s (2017) concept of blended formal functions to define Top-40 EDM’s most recognizable section, the “riserchorus.” Part three examines the larger structure of these tracks, including their “compound AAA” forms, in which each of the song’s rotations feature the same formal functions, though presented differently. Finally, the article demonstrates how Top-40 EDM producers regularly combine samples at the end of their tracks, resulting in cumulative hyper-blended sections like “riserchorus-bridge” and “riserchorus-drop.”
    Notes:
    access for free here: https://www.esm.rochester.edu/integral/36-2023/osborn/
    Metadata:
    Published as:
    Journal article    
    Status:
    Published
    Last Updated:
    8 months ago
    License:
    Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike

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