Music Analysis

Gangnam Style and Rivers

Made by Jeremy Sonpar

My analysis of the structure of Gangnam Style and the beginning of rivers.

Created: November 16th, 2014


I chose to analyze Gangnam Style by Psy because I don't really listen to a lot of pop music and I figured it was (is?) super popular so I figured why not. The song follows a fairly simple AABA structure, with the third A section being the chorus lasting 16 bars rather than 8. It does that twice, has a short break, and then jumps into the chorus to close the song. In more detail:

0:00 - 0:17 : 8 bars of introduction, establishes the beat. The singer drops a few "Gangnam Styles" but besides that not much really happens. It sets the mood mostly for the rest of the song.

0:17 - 0:33: First verse, 8 bars. Not exactly sure what he's saying but the groove in the background is identical to that from the intro.

0:33-0:47 : Second verse, 8 bars. The singer going in the same style but the backgrounds have an extra layer on them, I can't really describe it, but compare 0:17 to 0:34 and you'll hear it.

0:47-1:12: Bridge, 13 bars. The B section, the bridge. I thought it was interesting how its 13 bars long considering how the first three sections have all been 8s, but if you're going to break the formula in a pop song it'll be in the B section so I thought okay why not. Besides that it is much more melodic than the A sections. The beat changes up in the same kind of techno rhytmic style without repeating the beat from before. The section is mostly a build into the chorus, which comes next.

1:12-1:40: Chorus, 16 bars. The beat returns to what it was in the first verse, without that added effect going on. Interestingly, despite this being the chorus and one of the most recognizable parts of the song, it is extremely simple. I think that might be why its so universal, the previous minute had all been Korean where I had 0 clue what was going on, but here in the chorus its just "Hey Sexy Lady" which is in English and "Op op op op Oppa Gangnam Style" which I don't really know what that means but its simple enough to be memorable anyway.

1:40-1:54 : Third verse, 8 bars. The beat keeps going from the chorus as how it was in the first verse. The singer is singing a different melody but its over the same chords and beat so it still sounds fairly similar to the first verse.

1:55-2:08: Fourth verse, 8 bars. The beat transitions to how it was in the second verse, with that extra waah sound on top, but the singer keeps going along in more or less the same way.

2:08-2:33: Bridge, 13 bars. To me this sounds extremely similar to the first bridge, see the analysis above.

2:33-3:02: Chorus, 16 bars. I think this is actually identical to the first chorus.

3:02-3:20: Bridge v2, 10 bars. The first 8 bars of this carry through one verse of the beat and then cut out for the last 2. It doesn't sound the same like every other time though. It starts by dropping to a piano and gradually crescendoing over the 8 bar phrase. For bars 9 and 10, the backgrounds drop out and we get one last "Oppa Gangnam Style" to transition to the conclusion.

3:20-3:37: Conclusion, 8 bars. The conclusion to the song is 8 bars from the chorus, the "Hey Sexy Lady"s and "Op op op op Oppa Gangnam Style"s serve to leave the listener with the most recognizable section of the song and end in a dramatic fashion.

To analyze a beginning I chose Rivers, by Mike Tomaro. This is a jazz piece that begins with the drums start with more or less just time and the trombones come in after 8 with a groove that lasts 16 bars. The trumpets then jump with a simple line to accent whats already going on. After 16 bars of that the saxophones come in with little coloring runs, and after another 16 the rest of the band and rhythm section and all of a sudden you've got notes flying everywhere while still maintaining the same idea and groove. And because sections keep jumping in, the addition of players creates a natural crescendo. And if you like it, check out the CMU Jazz Orchestra as we play it live Monday the 17th (yes today) at 8pm in Kresge Auditorium in CFA. Hooray for shameless plugs.

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My analysis of the structure of Gangnam Style and the beginning of rivers.