“The Times They Were A-Changin’”: A Database-Driven Approach to the Evolution of Musical Syntax in Popular Music from the 1960s

Authors

  • Hubert L Schulich School of Music, McGill University

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.18061/emr.v10i3.4467

Keywords:

popular music, corpus, Billboard, harmony, modulation

Abstract

The goal of this research is to investigate the pitch structures of popular music in the 1960s through a large corpus study in order to identify any consistent changes in harmonic and tonal syntax.  More specifically, two studies based on the Billboard DataSet (Burgoyne, Wild & Fujinaga, 2011; Burgoyne, 2011), a new corpus presenting transcriptions for more than 700 songs, is presented. The first study looks at the incidence of multi-tonic songs throughout the decade, while the second study focuses on the incidence of flat-side harmonies (e.g. bIII, bVI, and bVII) over the same period of time. While no difference was observed in the frequency of multi-tonic songs, the study showed a significant increase in the incidence of flat-side harmonies during the second half of the decade.

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Published

2015-04-09

Issue

Section

Articles