Form in Pop Music, Fusion and World Music


The pop music that we listen to comes out of the blues which was the foundation for rock and roll. 

The standard 12 bar blues is a repeated set of chords that follow a vocal form of:
statement – statement – summary

Billie Holiday’s blues follows this format:

My man don’t love me he treats me awful mean
            My man don’t love me he treats me awful mean
He’s the lowest man I’ve ever seen


Early gospel music takes a similar shape but uses a longer form of:

 statement – statement – statement– summary

The blues became the standard form used by Little Richard, Elvis, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and all of the early rockers.

The Beatles and the Beach Boys began experimenting with form in their music and artists like Blood Sweat and Tears followed suit mixing in jazz elements with their music. 

In R&B the blues was dominant as well as the verse/chorus format.  Stevie Wonder and Prince were the ones to start stretching out of the standard forms and experimented with different approaches.

Jazz artists like Charles Mingus, Miles Davis and Wayne Shorter experimented with different forms and many of the fusion groups like Weather Report, Yellowjackets, and Pat Metheny began to include new forms as well.

In line with the jazz artists, Brazilian music began to try new forms in bossa nova.  Antonio Carlos Jobim and Joao Gilberto added longer and more developed sections in their music.

As we can see there have been many different approaches to using form across genres.  Let me know what interesting forms you have come across and in what style of music it was in.



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