Saturday, April 27, 2013

"Form and Style in the Music of U2": PhD DissertationChristopher James Scott Endrinal


The purpose of this study is to examine the formal designs and stylistic characteristics that U2 employs. It is my contention that, in addition to business savvy and commercial promotion, U2’s sustained success has been a result of stylistic originality and musical complexity.
The research in this dissertation is three-tiered. First, it identifies the salient sonic characteristics that distinguish U2’s music from the music of other bands. Second, using those characteristics, it examines the various formal organizations U2 uses throughout its catalogue. This step requires analysis of each section’s function and relationship to surrounding sections as well as to the song as a whole, which entails detailed examination of several elements including harmony, melody, lyrics, instrumentation, timbre, recording and production techniques, rhythm, meter, and motivic content. Third, I provide detailed analyses of several songs across the band’s career to demonstrate how U2 constructs songs and how each member incorporates his own unique musical perspective into these formal designs.

This study adopts a hybrid outlook on form and formal process, one that combines aspects of several different theories of form with original analytical strategies. I employ both “bottom-up” and “top-down” approaches to formal construction, graphical analysis in the form of electronic waveforms and spectrographs, as well as linear reductive methods, and traditional rhythmic, metric, melodic, and harmonic analysis.  link

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