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Free course

Listening for form in popular music

Free statement of participation on completion
Listening for form in popular music

This free course, Listening for form in popular music, explores form, or how music is organised in time. It looks at three strategies for communicating form – through the use of specialist terms (such as ‘chorus’ and ‘bridge’), alphabetic designations (for example AABA), and visual diagrams. It also considers how the form of a song works with its lyrics to create meaning.

This OpenLearn course is an adapted extract from the Open University course A234 Understanding music.

Course learning outcomes

After studying this course, you should be able to:

  • perceive common elements of form in Western popular song (including folksong and the jazz standard) in pieces including 'Suspicious Minds', 'Midnight Special' and 'It's Only a Paper Moon'
  • understand three methods for communicating information about form: specialist terms, alphabetic designations, and visual representations
  • recognise how form and lyrics work together to convey meaning.

First Published: 07/07/2021

Updated: 07/07/2021

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