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Journal Article

Subverting the Verse–Chorus Paradigm: Terminally Climactic Forms in Recent Rock Music

Brad Osborn
Music Theory Spectrum
Vol. 35, No. 1 (Spring 2013), pp. 23-47
Published by: on behalf of the Society for Music Theory
DOI: 10.1525/mts.2013.35.1.23
Stable URL:
Page Count: 25
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Subverting the Verse–Chorus Paradigm
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This article defines and demonstrates a formal type I call “terminally climactic forms.” These forms, which appear frequently in rock songs after 1990, are characterized by their balance between the expected memorable highpoint (the chorus) and the thematically independent terminal climax, the song’s actual high point, which appears only once at the end of the song. After presenting the rationale for such forms, including new models of rock endings and climaxes, the article presents archetypes for three classifications of terminally climactic forms: two-part, three-part, and extended. Each archetype is supported by analytical examples from the post-millennial rock corpus.

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