Listening for form in popular music
Listening for form in popular music

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Listening for form in popular music

11 Instrumental interludes

The opening discussion of ‘Midnight Special’ also introduced the instrumental interlude, which can be understood as a break from the vocal material of a song. Interludes are often opportunities for instrumental soloists to step into the spotlight; certain varieties are so well-established they have their own names (e.g. the guitar or saxophone solo).

Like introductions, interludes are often based on musical material from other parts of a song. In ‘Midnight Special’, interludes and introduction alike are textless versions of the chorus. For this reason, the designation ‘based on chorus’ has been incorporated at several points in Table 7. You can listen to your recording of the song again to confirm the relationship between the interlude and the chorus: do this in the same way as with the introduction, by singing or saying the words of the chorus during the interludes.

Table 7 Form of ‘Midnight Special’ (partial)

Track timing Section
0:00 Instrumental introduction (based on chorus)
0:11

Chorus 1

0:21 Verse 1 (‘Yonder come Miss Rosie ...’)
0:40 Chorus 2
0:50

Instrumental interlude (based on chorus)

1:01 Verse 2 (‘When you get up in the morning ...’)
1:20 Chorus 3
1:29

Instrumental interlude (based on chorus)

1:41 Verse 3 (‘If you ever go to Houston ...’)
1:59 Chorus 4
2:09 Instrumental interlude (based on chorus)

There are two instrumental interludes in the second half of ‘Be My Baby’ (Covach, 2005, pp. 71–2). As Table 8 shows, the first begins immediately after the second chorus and is based on the verse. The second is shorter and simpler, but no less effective. Almost all of the musicians drop out, and the simple rhythmic pattern that opened the song is heard again. A few seconds later, the chorus bursts in at full volume and takes the listener through to the end of the piece.

Table 8 Structure of ‘Be My Baby’

Track time Section
00:00 Instrumental introduction (includes vamp based on opening of verse)
00:07 Verse 1
00:35 Chorus
00:52 Verse 2
01:20 Chorus
01:36 Instrumental interlude (based on first half of verse)
01:50 Chorus
02:06 Short instrumental break (based on very beginning of introduction)
02:10 Chorus (heard twice with fadeout on second time)

Activity 8

Timing: Allow around 10 minutes for this activity

Listen once or twice to ‘Be My Baby’, following along with Table 8. When you reach the first interlude at 01:36, try singing or saying the first half of the second verse in time with the violin part (‘I’ll make you happy, baby, just wait and see / For every kiss you give me, I'll give you three’). This should confirm the relationship between the interlude and the verse.

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